B-Schemes from South Africa

Series Site

"In partnership with Gravel Road Entertainment, Spectacle is thrilled to exhibit a handful of deep cuts from the heyday of South African blaxploitation cinema, excavated and restored by Johannesburg-based Retro Afrika Bioscope. Many of these were developed under a government subsidy spearheaded by one Tonie van der Merwe, the white owner of a construction company who realized serious money was to be made by showing inexpensively made genre films in impoverished Black townships. (In a 2015 Guardian interview, van der Merwe said, “We used all of my equipment as props. My diggers. My airplane. My cars.”)"

"The ensuing “B-Schemes” are complicated: they star entirely Black casts, yet the movies are apolitical genre thrillers, melodramas, adaptations of South African novels – Van Der Merwe himself is estimated to have worked on nearly 400 of them, a quarter of what was produced until the end of the white-supremacist regime in 1990. Retro Afrika Bioscope is dedicated to restoring and distributing them worldwide, including making each of the films available streaming on their website. (The favored masterpiece is 1986’s Zulu-language desert western UMBANGO – THE FEUD – coming to Spectacle in February.)" –Spectacle