Cape of Good Hope, 2004
Starring Debbie Brown, Eriq Ebouaney, Nthati Moshesh and Morne Visser.
Synopsis (from NetFlix):
Mark Bamford’s thought-provoking comedy explores the ever-present friction between class, race and faith in modern-day South Africa, tracing the intersection of multiple lives. Although her tiny animal shelter is open to all creatures great and small, Kate still can’t seem to open her heart to romance. Meanwhile, her employees and clientele are in need of rescue themselves.
First off, I highly recommend this film. If you haven’t seen it, please do. It’s on NetFlix Instant so you could even watch it tonight. It’s an award winning independent film and deservedly so.
Ok, hyping aside let’s get to it. The film opens with this quote which is a theme that runs through the movie:
He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance. ~Bahá’u’lláh
South Africa is known for it’s institutionalize Racism in the form of Apartheid and has been working to overcome that negative legacy. This film focuses on people from a variety of racial backgrounds and classes within South Africa, all of whom are affiliated somehow with the Animal Shelter. Through the film we are able to see how those of different races, religions, and backgrounds can potentially be united and work together in love and harmony within the staff of the shelter, but then we also see how outside of the shelter there are still tensions and injustices regarding race, class, and religion. The multi-level “shelter” for both animals and people reminds me of this prayer:
I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of Thy favor. ~Bahá’u’lláh
The film is great at using subtlety and metaphor to help unravel these thematic threads. For example people frequently request pure breeds, whereas the shelter mostly has mutts and mongrels. The one pure breed it does have at the moment had been trained to attack blacks by it’s previous owner and so is slated to be put down. However a tenacious Congolese refugee takes the abuse from the animal while treating it with love and eventually is able to get the dog to stop attacking him despite the color of his skin.
The fact that people want pure breeds may seem harmless, but the film shows how that mentality when applied to humans is dangerous. Overcoming prejudice and injustice are themes throughout the film, and the way this is done is through patience, love and compassion.
Each of the characters goes through tests, each different, but each allows them to make the better choice towards love and unity, or the less good choice towards selfishness and ego. The characters do not always make the right choice in the beginning, but are able to learn and grow and make better choices by the end of the film.
This movie was fun, but felt real, and showed how it can be done, how we all can learn to be more loving, compassionate, and truth seeking, to overcome our prejudices and our baggage.