Woordfees screens Black Lives Matter

Initially this article was meant to be a review of a Woordfees event; the screening of a documentary called Black Lives Matter on Sunday 5 March 2017.

Instead, as I sat at the front of Pulp Cinema in the Neelsie, I decided to change that. You see: there was no one there.

Well, not no one, there were two very helpful ladies clad in blue Woordfees t-shirts attending to the ticket sales desk.

This was just a few minutes before the screening was to begin.

Several Pulp Cinema employees were dutifully selling to walk-ins what I imagined was the most popular snack on campus: popcorn. That salty, buttery smell filled the air.

On the left-hand side was the equally popular coffee booth with one barista churning out steaming cups of java.

So, where was the audience? Did anyone know this documentary screening was going to happen? Were students just too busy with the minutiae of everyday student life to attend? Were the tickets too expensive?

And what about the Stellenbosch townsfolk and tourists who have been flocking to all the other shows?

Woordfees has been accused in the past of not catering to students, so where were they?

The ticket desk had not sold a single ticket for this show, said one of the ladies there. She said this was by far was the worst attendance she had seen of all the shows.

Pulp Cinema, Neelsie student centre. PHOTO: neelsiesa.co.za

It made me wonder what the Woordfees organisers were trying to achieve by including this in the programme. An attempt at transformation? Was this done simply to tick the ‘diversity’ box?

Three people watched the documentary: An older gentleman, another student and me.

The documentary was shot on location in Baltimore, Maryland and Chicago, Illinois and follows the grassroots, national and international movement: #BlackLivesMatter.

#BlackLivesMatter started in 2012 with the shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

The movement was propelled on in 2015 with the death of  Freddie Gray who was beaten by police and later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The movement stands in protest of police brutality against Black Americans and the lack of consequences for the police thereafter.

Celebrities such as singer Beyoncé, rapper Kendrick Lamar and actor Jesse Williams have given their voice to the campaign.