Photo: The Shore Break

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We’ve all heard the story: an international corporation proposes to build a mine on land occupied by Indigenous people and endanger the environment on which their livelihood and culture depends. Some community members support the project. Others organize to oppose it.

It could be happening in northern B.C., in rural Ontario, on a reserve in Quebec. But this time it’s South Africa, and the award-winning documentary film that tells the tale, The Shore Break, will open the Vancouver South African Film Festival Friday, April 8 at SFU Woodward’s.

On South Africa’s stunning Wild Coast, the Pondo people have tended their traditional way of life for centuries. Nonhle, a young local eco-tour guide, is a staunch supporter of her people, their endangered environment, their land and culture.

While the pro-environment Pondo Royal Family is deposed, Nonhle rallies inspiring support to oppose the mine project with dogged determination, articulate and thoughtful arguments and the support of many of her community’s elders.

Her cousin Madiba, a local entrepreneur and self-proclaimed moderniser, supports the titanium-mining proposal and the government’s controversial plan to build a tolled highway across their land. Tired of his community living without good access to employment, hospitals and schools, Madiba courts private capital and government officials.

The stakes of the conflict couldn’t be higher. Just two weeks ago, one of the leaders of the community group that opposes the mine was assassinated by gunmen in his home.

Featuring stunning cinematography and sensational original music, The Shore Break delivers a visually and emotionally riveting experience that echoes almost exactly struggles over development in Canada — many of them in First Nations Communities.

Avi Lewis, the Director of This Changes Everything has called The Shore Break, “A moving dispatch from the front lines of Blockadia, a stunning and beautifully-told story of a community defending its land, and a reminder that indigenous people everywhere are both leading the resistance against toxic extraction and guarding a worldview that holds the key to our collective survival.”

What’s remarkable about The Shore Break is that every argument, every issue, virtually every word spoken, is identical to what we experience in the conflicts we face here in Canada about resource development, the environment and traditional and indigenous cultures and communities.

Among many other international awards The Shore Break won Best Feature Length Documentary at The Festival International du Film d’Environnement in France and The Amnesty International Human Rights Award at the Durban International Film Festival.

Other highlights of the Festival include RFK in the Land of Apartheid — documenting Robert Kennedy’s little-known trip to South Africa at the height of apartheid in 1966; Dis Ek, Anna — which won 6 South African Oscars this year including Best Feature Film; Angelina Jolie’s Difret in which a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer are embroiled in a clash between deeply rooted cultural traditions and equal rights.


For more information and to purchase tickets:

To watch a trailer of The Shore Break:


VSAFF is organized and produced entirely by volunteers. Proceeds from the Vancouver South African Film Festival go to Education without Borders and the important education development work they do — much of it in Gugulethu Township near Cape Town.

Photo: The Shore Break


Kaitlin McNabb

Kaitlin McNabb

Kaitlin McNabb is rabble’s news coordinator, book lounge coordinator and moderator of the babble book club. She is currently completing the Editing Certificate at Simon Fraser University, satisfying...