Oliver Schmitz was born in 1960 in Cape Town, South Africa, as the son of German immigrants. To escape being drafted into the South African army – to defend the apartheid regime – he became a conscientious objector, leaving South Africa for Germany. As a member of the Film Research Unit, a union of black and white filmmakers, he worked on a number of documentaries and television films about the resistance against the racist apartheid regime. He worked as a screenwriter and director for many German television productions, several of which were awarded the Grimme Prize. Back in South Africa, he realised his first non-documentary film, ‘Mapantsula’, in 1987. The film was banned in South Africa, but in 1988 Schmitz was invited to present it at Cannes. The film won a number of prizes, among others at the Munich film festival. The film tells the story of a petty criminal from Soweto who ends up on the side of the anti-apartheid movement after being asked to act as an informer. In the late eighties, Schmitz collaborated on a series of underground documentary films in South Africa. He finished nine documentary films in this series, including ‘Jo´burg Stories’ (1997), which was produced by ARTE and was awarded the prize for best documentary film at the Festival Vues d´Afrique in Montreal. In 2001 he realized ‘Hijack Storie´s’, a documentary film which won a prize at the 2001 Cannes film festival in the series ‘Un certain regard’. ‘Hijack Stories’ is set in Soweto and ran at Cannes in 2001 under the heading ‘Un Certain Regard’. In this gangster film, Oliver Schmitz analyses the situation of young people after the collapse of the apartheid regime while providing a ‘satirical commentary’ on the role of the media in South African culture.
Author: Haus der Kulturen der Welt
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(23 October 93 - 15 December 02)