Link to Trailer: vimeo.com/199917656 (password: Zero)
Dramatic, intimate and a real-life detective search, Searching for Angie is the true story of Australian Filmmaker and Oscar nominee Steve Pasvolsky as he embarks on an international search for an elderly woman who changed the course of his life. In 1977, Steve left South Africa with his three siblings and parents for a new expatriate life in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. As a ten-year-old, Steve knew nothing of the story behind his beloved Xhosa nanny, Angelina. Steve has only recently discovered that two of Angelina’s own children had died while looking after his privileged family in leafy Cape Town. At the time, it was accepted that this was just the way it was. But that was the white lens. In her grief, Angie had extracted two of her own teeth to always remind herself of their loss. As his family built their new middle class life in Australia, no one thought of her life’s journey, or the death of her children. They never saw or heard from her again. Searching for Angie follows Steve’s desperate search for Angie in order to finally, express appreciation and respect for the sacrifices she made for his family. It’s about displacement and it's about those imaginary contracts one holds in their minds with others. Hopefully for Steve, it's an opportunity for redemption ... for 'reducing Angelina to zero'.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Hundreds of thousands of indigenous South African women left their children behind in their homelands, 15 hours drive away, so they could work for white families in the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Many of their children were not breast fed by them and they never 'had their mothers love' as they only got to see them for two weeks a year over Christmas time. In our case, Angelina, our domestic worker lost two children while she cared for us ... and I only found this out forty years later. This film is about prejudice that's programmed into people under oppressive regimes (and the attempt to undo it), it's about displacement, reconnection, retribution and redemption ... themes that rear their heads often for immigrants ... and Australia is filled with immigrants from all over the world. Australia has a refugee policy that de-humanises the 'other' people. This film humanises the 'other' people.This film explores ingrained racism that, as a result of Apartheid, is as strong on both sides of the fence. It explores the culture of black South Africans ... culture that domestic workers liked to hide from the white people they worked for - to keep it sacred ... and we were privileged to discover the real South Africa, not the brochure version.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
The world now has more displaced people than ever ... so this film is philanthropic exercise in itself in that it recognises displacement and relationships torn - and encourages those that departed a regime to reconnect with those that made huge contributions to their families ... not just white ex South Africans - but that is where we will start. Our aim is for every white ex South African (there are over 1 million living in the UK, 4 million worldwide) to see this film and be inspired to reconnect and show appreciation for the contribution their domestic workers made for them. To cut to the chase, this journey was an opportunity to give back in dollar terms to a woman and her family that still struggle to survive ... Hopefully other expats will do the same. Beyond the dollars though, it should be noted that what these domestic did or do for white families is not considered a sacrifice. They consider themselves lucky that they have a job to feed their families ... so this film aims to quash that assumption.
We have a LOI from the ABC to acquire this documentary, so it can be expected to be viewed by over 400,000 people in Australia. We aim to distribute the film worldwide with TVF, and hope the numbers proportionately in Europe and THE USA are healthy. We also aim to enter film festivals and make the film available on VOD.
The films quantitative impact is primarily the measure of screenings and the associated ratings, which will be reported and tabled. The qualitative impact will be measured by the depth of engagement we can engender on social media and the feedback we gleam. Since Angelina was eventually found through Facebook, this is the perfect platform to start a conversation and help others connect. We will create our Facebook presence and literally count the number of success stories.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
If budget permits, we will of course engage an Impact Producer to orchestrate and measure our impact. We believe this film could be an education tool. It is subtle in its presentation of the themes of displacement, and racism, yet it is powerful in its messaging of the 'imaginary contracts' we hold and in encouraging the understanding of 'others'. This film also has themes of fear of the unknown and propaganda, that feed into the fabric of our nation (or lack thereof). Therefore we will offer it to all schools throughout Australia (and others around the world if budget permits), to be delivered with a simple kit to engage ... anyone. Anyone they have lost contact with through regime, rift, guilt, misunderstanding, or distance - not just South Africans. Wherever possible we may present the film and engender discussion on the subject of displacement, loss and 'other' as it relates to our own refugees.