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“Petticoat protester’s long walk” for Whiplash in this week’s Mail and Guardian

Meg Rickards, director of the movie, Whiplash, is absolutely committed to the movie and ensuring that it gets made. Last Friday she walked 26kms to raise awareness around the issues that Whiplash raises. She wrote about the experience in this week’s Mail and Guardian, why she did it and what she learnt.

We decided on something in the spirit of performance art, to embody the film’s premise – about “breaking the silence” and “shedding the shame”. We would make people feel uncomfortable, make them talk.

The Thundafund campaign has been hugely successful in attracting fans to the Whiplash film page and in raising money, so far they have raised over R80,000.00 which is wonderful. But far from the target of R1 million. Making a movie is a costly business, but the Thundafund campaign has also drawn attention to the movie, and hopefully will have huge crowds of us going out to cinemas when it opens here in South Africa. Meg explains that her long walk was partly a publicity stunt, but also a way to draw attention to the issues raised in Whiplash.

Still, I can hear you cynically asking, why would I do it? And yes, there is another reason. I’m a filmmaker, struggling – along with my producer, Jacky Lourens – to raise the last 30% of the budget for a film called Whiplash, based on an astounding novel by Tracey Farren. My last film, 1994: the bloody miracle, was a documentary – cheaper to make. With fiction, if you’re not Leon Schuster or clutching the script for a romantic comedy or vicarious gore-fest, you’re screwed. With its themes of prostitution, domestic abuse and misplaced shame, Whiplash is gritty and hard-hitting.

Meg explains that for her it was “easy to display” the bruises she wore while walking

Of course my bruises were easy to display, precisely because they were fake. Unlike many, many women, I don’t carry that particular “whiplash”, or stored-up trauma. I am acutely aware that I had a team watching me all the way and that, on arriving in Muizenberg, I could step into the sea and wash the bruises away.

Read the rest of Meg’s piece from the Mail and Guardian here

WhiplashIf you have a few bucks to spare, please consider supporting the making of this important film along with the (at last count) 102 other suppoerters. Meg explains in a letter she wrote at the beginning of the fundraising campaign what she and the team hope to achieve by making and screening this film. It’s a much needed intervention in South Africa right now.

The Medical Research Council estimates that up to 3,600 rapes happen daily in South Africa: that’s 1.4 million rapes a year. These are committed in a climate of impunity: amongst the small proportion that get reported, no more than one in ten result in a conviction. A culture of abuse means that for many, rape – even that of minors – is not seen as a crime so much as a daily occurrence.

How do we change mind-sets? We believe Whiplash is an urgent intervention to stimulate dialogue about this scourge. However, Whiplash is not an explicit ‘messaging film’. The fact that it’s a riveting story makes it a far more powerful tool. Film has the ability to promote empathy and spark discussion. No one wants to be preached at.

For Whiplash to have a significant impact on popular cultural attitudes, it needs to reach everyone. So Whiplash will be launched as part of an extensive public awareness campaign – with Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and NGO Embrace Dignity – and screenings and discussions will be held in schools, prisons, civic and religious organisations throughout the country.

I’ve been asked, ‘Is Whiplash a feel-good film?’ Well, No – but it’s certainly a feel-better film. This is not a Pretty Woman fairy tale; this is a chance to fall in love with someone intrinsically beautiful who believes she is ugly. Tess is so brutally honest your skin will itch, so bitingly funny you’ll laugh despite oneself. You won’t be able to help yourself rooting for her as she sheds her misplaced guilt to stop feeling like a whore. So Whiplash won’t leave you bleak, but rather with a sense of hope.

Sexual violence is a reality that we seek to challenge; but this is also a film about healing; about a woman coping with her horrific past and finding a way through to recovery…


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