Stakeman Awarded 2007 New England Emerging Filmmaker Award

Story posted August 06, 2007

Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies Emeritus Randolph Stakeman was awarded the 2007 New England Emerging Filmmaker Award for feature documentaries at the Woods Hole Film Festival, held July 28 - Aug. 4, 2007. Stakeman wrote, directed and produced the film "Heritage Day," one of the film festival's featured documentaries.

SimonsTownRailwayStation.jpg
Probably taken during the apartheid era (post 1950). It shows the little girl oblivious to the racially separated life she was to lead. The elderly white gentlemen matter-of-factly accepts the segregation of his world.

"Heritage Day" offers a look at the South African community of Simon's Town, which in the 1960s was declared a "whites only" area by South Africa's apartheid government. The black and mixed-race communities were displaced to racially segregated settlements. Simon's Town has become a seaside vacation resort for the well-to-do, the memory of its history fading among the general public, but it remains vivid for those who suffered the fear, loss and grief of relocation at the hands of South Africa's apartheid government.

"This is a film about memory," says Prof. Stakeman. "The people who were moved are even today suffering the effects of that relocation, and it has turned the pre-forced removal period into a false nostalgic past, a yearning for those things that have been denied them in the present. Yet they have overcome those events to build new lives, and this is also the story of their triumph over the past and their optimism for a brighter future."

Stakeman interviewed four of the first non-whites who were moved to segregated communities miles away. One of the displaced went on to become a well-known poet of the anti-apartheid movement, another became an activist in the anti-apartheid movement and a third returned after the Mandela-led new South African government to establish a museum.

SimonsTown1965.jpg
Young children playing in a "colored" community a few years before the forced relocation. Circa 1965.

"Heritage Day" is the result of Stakeman's six-month stay in South Africa in 2003. While visiting a museum in Simon's Town, he met several people who made him aware of the town's unique history and the annual recollections of it on the national holiday known as Heritage Day, from which the film takes its name.

Stakeman worked on the film with his son, Jackson Stakeman, who was the picture and sound editor. Jerry Edwards '04 composed original music for the film.

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