Dir/scr: Khalo Matabane. S Afr. 2005. 80mins
Falling somewhere between a tentative documentary anda piece of home movie improvisation, Khalo Matabane's first fictional feature allows him to againexplore the many faces resident in South Africa today.
The set-up is the accidentalencounter between a tormented poet Keniloe (Kgoroge) and a Somali refugee, Fatima (Hersi),whose father and brother were butchered in the civil war at home.
After several meetings in a park,during which she tells Keniloe about her past, Fatimadisappears. Eager to find out more, Keniloe begins a largelyunsystematic quest across Johannesburg's densely populated inner city, stoppingpeople on the street to ask her whereabouts.
The film's fictional element,once the park set-up has been dealt with, is practically non-existent. Rather Conversations On ASunday Afternoon works best as a kind of quasi documentary, and as such deservesto find a niche onto relevant related programmes.
Matabane's successful ploy is to use Keniloe'squeries to those he meets on the street to build up a series of questions and answers.Pulled together, they offer a desolate image of the world in general and Africain particular, replete as it is with wars, massacres, repression and displaced identities.
The material often sounds familiar,but the expressions on the faces of the subjects is atleast as arresting as the things they have to say.
There is a Ugandan girl who hasbeen living in South African since childhood but is still not sure of her identity;a gigantic Congolese bodyguard recounting the horrors of the civil wars which almostcost him his life; a Bosnian girl explaining that no one really understood whatthe war in her country was about, not even the participants; refugees from Gazawho realise there is little chance of going home but who still refuse to acceptthat they are anything but Palestinian; and a Korean girl who discovers that bothblacks and whites in South Africa look down on her - and this in a country whichproudly proclaims it has done away with racism.
By the end, finding Fatima isless relevant than how, in the process, Matabane revealsa multi-faceted and rewarding portrait that is not overly-distracted by his quirkyapproach.