The Wooden Camera

In Kayelitsha, a township close to Capetown, after the end of Apartheid, two thirteen-year-old kids- Madiba and Sipho – play along the railway line. A train passes by. A dead man is tossed from the train and rolls to their feet. His lifeless hand clutches an attaché case. Inside, the boys find a gun and a video camera. Sipho takes the gun and Madiba the camera. Madiba starts filming the township and its inhabitants. Through the lens, his bleak surroundings take on a strange new beauty. His status enhanced by gun ownership, Sipho becomes a gang leader and operates out of Capetown. In Capetown Madiba meets Estelle, who lives in a traditional Capetownian white community in which century-old prejudices have not died with the end of apartheid. Madiba introduces Estelle to Sipho, who inadvertently encourages her rebellion against her racist, strict father. Estelle introduces Madiba to Mr. Shawn, her music teacher who has taught music in the townships. Mr. Shawn encourages Madiba’s filmmaking. Madiba and Estelle each deal with problems at home of a very different sort. For Madiba, it’s the extreme poverty and an alcoholic father. For Estelle, it’s the rising confrontations with her narrow-minded father. Meanwhile, Sipho’s friendship with Madiba becomes strained as Sipho falls into drug use (sniffing glue) and deeper into crime.