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The African Cypher


The long-awaited dance doccie, The African Cypher is premiering this Friday at The Fugard in Cape Town, and although tickets are sold out, we got our hands on 2 tickets to give away to one lucky Mahala fan. Yes, that’s right, exclusive tickets to the world-premier, followed by a Q&A session. So who’s it gonna be? Tag the event page on Mahala, and tell us why you love South African dance. Easy! Most creative answer wins.

Following the success of documentary “Fokofpolisiekar” in 2009 which won both the best documentary and the audience award at Encounters, Fly on the Wall is releasing their 2nd full length feature doccie. This time round, in association with Red Bull Media House, “The African Cypher” the title of their new doccie, has once again made official selection at Encounters documentary festival! The African Cypher has also been officially selected for the Durban International Film Festival 2012.

“Put a little trouble in your hat”

Directed by: Bryan Little
Produced by: Filipa Domingues
Cinematography by: Grant Appleton
Edited by: Grant Birch
Sound deign and composition by: Simon Kohler
A Fly on the Wall production

Dance/Social Documentary
Running time : 89 min
English/Afrikaans/Zulu/Sotho/Totsi Taal : Subtitled in English

The African Cypher is the birthplace of ritual celebration, council, story telling and dance.

“I dance as if I have a gun to my head.” – Mada Sthembiso, (Shakers&Movers)

Street dance in South Africa is a complex, convoluted underworld; that, like most sub-cultures, exists as a sum of its participants.

In Mapetla, Soweto if you steal phones and hand bags you will not live long. The community will kill you. If you do a heist, they will tell the police you are not there. Prince tells me this as we walk back to Mada’s place from the shisa nyama. (an informal outdoor fire where you can buy some meat to cook and drink a beer.)

Prince is a pantsula. He used to be a tsotsi, a gangster, a thug. Today he walks his streets with pride; he is a pantsula dancer and a little bit famous. Tom London from Soweto’s Finest says, “When we dance we find purpose with our bodies”. Prince, strolling down the dusty street with his fluid movement, a little trouble in his hat and a slight swagger, is perhaps the embodiment of that sentiment.

When he dances on the street corner with Mada; the kids, the tsotsi’s, the mama’s, the unemployed and the hustlers all stop to watch him. I always wonder how it must feel to have that power residing right inside you. No props, no burning hoops – nothing.

Whatever this dance thing is. It is beautiful, part circus/part soul. No matter the context or style. We all ultimately dance for an audience of one.

The Creators

Fly on the Wall is a film making collective that started in Cape Town in 2004. They started out making music videos and short films but it was their multi-award winning documentary film on iconic South African rock band, Fokofpolisiekar, which made them “a little bit famous”.

Fly on the Wall has slowly expanded and evolved over the years, producing an impressive body of work spanning many genres. Their purity of intention, excitement and unwavering commitment to excellence has made them a creative force to be reckoned with.

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