Visual Storytelling in the Cape Flats Gang Biopics Noem My Skollie (2016) and Ellen: Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies (2018)
This M.A. mini-thesis seeks to open up the post-apartheid South African biopic as a topic for serious historical scrutiny. While book-length written biographies published in the post-apartheid (and apartheid periods) are the subjects of a now quite extensive historiographical literature, biography on film – including in the form of filmic dramas – has been hitherto entirely ignored. Social history or marginalised lives and not political lives of struggle against apartheid have been the predominant subgenre within this emerging field: with sixteen biopics having been produced in the 2010s. But the field is dominated by white men. This thesis showcases the story-telling gifts of one young coloured film-maker through a meticulously detailed analysis of “visual story-telling” and “visual language” used in his two award-winning gang biopics, Noem My Skollie (2016) and Ellen. Die Stories van Ellen Pakkies (2018). Read in the context of the extended processes of production of these two films in which the central protagonists played a shaping background role, the thesis explores and compares the linear chronological, four-chapter, narrative structure of Noem My Skollie with the architecture of “the parallel narrative” used in the deeply disturbing Ellen. Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies (2018) The thesis is a celebration of the film-making talent of Daryne Joshua.