WATCH | The filmmaker redirecting the legacy of District Six to heal a nation

The danger of undocumented history lies in the loss of heritage, identity, and an unhealed nation.

Cape Town-based filmmaker Nadine Cloete is uncovering erased South African narratives through cinema.

During apartheid, over 60 000 residents were uprooted from their homes in District Six to turn it into a whites-only area. Consequently, families and communities were broken apart.

“The painful history of District Six is still very present,” Cloete says. “It's through speaking about it that we can heal.”

In 2020, Cloete directed Address Unknown, the first short fiction film about the District Six removals.

Inspired by the true story of a former postman, it depicts one man’s quest to reconnect with a childhood friend he lost touch with under the apartheid regime.

This thought-provoking depiction of a painful history reveals how the Group Areas Act severed people from their roots and loved ones.

“Ignorance about history means we can never heal and we continue to sit with our trauma,” Cloete says.

Cultivating the power of film as a tool to deal with the past, she’s providing a platform for important conversations. “History is a living entity. It's not the past, it's very much the present,” Cloete says.

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Winner of Best Short Film at the 2021 South African Film and Television Awards, Address Unknown is a pivotal avenue through which Cloete demonstrates how one personal story can have a wider societal impact.

“I’m drawn to telling stories about heritage and identity,” she says.

Through filmmaking, she’s creating a legacy for marginalised narratives to be foregrounded and given a voice. “I hope people feel seen in my work,” Cloete says.

Footage from Address Unknown and Action Kommandant was used in the creation of this film.