Ipi

Los Angeles, California | Film Feature

Documentary

Yasmin Hed

1 Campaigns | California, United States

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This campaign raised $16,441 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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When I discovered footage of a musical filmed by my late father decades ago, I began a long-delayed search for the meaning of his life and death. Embarking on a reflective exploration of art and identity, I returned to South Africa to start making the film he never finished.

About The Project

  • The Story
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  • The Team
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Mission Statement

While the subjects featured in the documentary are from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Europe and the US, the crew is composed of creatives from the US, South Africa, Eastern Europe and Mexico. IPI is directed by a female filmmaker with a multi-cultural and extremely talented crew. Read their bios ...

The Story

For me, the warrior is someone that doesn’t give up. They keep

on pushing. Because they don’t know what’s waiting for them in the future.”

 

These words were shared to me by a phenomenal South African dancer named PHELANI. They speak of the strength and beauty of the human spirit, something I saw again and again through the subjects of the film.

 

My journey began with a 16 mm film of Ipi N Tombi , a South African musical my late father filmed before I was born and which I found decades after his abrupt passing. The musical tells a tale of a man who leaves his Zulu village to find work in the goldmines where conditions are harsh and inhumane, and it turned out to have an interesting backstory of its own.

 

Journeying beyond the archival footage, I found an exceptional group of dancers, choreographers, and modern-day mine workers connected to the original musical,  their stories connected by common themes of loss, trauma and triumph. It's my intention to capture these stories as authentically as possible, letting the dance and the dancers speak for themselves. Restaging musical numbers they performed in decades ago, the musical's original choreographers will come to life as characters in my film.  

 

 

Upon discovering the footage my father had left behind, I was immediatedly drawn to the vibrant and powerful music of Ipi N Tombi. Its powerful drumbeat became a catalyst for a personal journey of grief and acceptance. 

 

 

In understanding the musical's story, it was crucial for me to delve into the political setting of apartheid-era South Africa at the time of its premiere. The music's themes had deeper meaning, during a time when many forms of expression were restricted and when the arts could serve as a means of freedom and defiance. Against that backdrop, in modern day South Africa and within the constructed reality of this film, music and dance are powerful instruments, connecting different generations in distant countries. 

 

 

While exploring the harsh conditions of the mining industry today, we spend time with miners such as PROSPER, a Zimbabwean mining for gold in Johannesburg, who mirror the protagonist of the musical. In looking to understand the life of miners in today's South Africa, I find parallels to some of the musical's story. Prosper dreams of working in the South African tourism industry. But because he needs to support his family back home and no other options for work, he has no other choice but to work in the mines. Like many who suffer the physical consequences of working in this field, Prosper has severe asthma. Music is an integral part of his life, present in the Zimbabwean melodies he sings below ground, an escape from the harsh reality of his working conditions. When I met with Prosper for the first time on the outskirts of Johannesburg moments after a powerful rainstorm, he sang a transporting Zimbabwean melody calling for ancestral protection. In this documentary, we would follow Prosper at home, shadowing him in the morning before mining while discovering stories of his home country upon his return from an exhausting day at work. We'd  hear the protective melodies he sings going underground. Will he still be mining underground as time continues to pass? Will he be able to support his family? Will he become a father? How will his health withstand the rigors of his unchosen trade?

 

 

Three years ago, I traveled to South Africa to meet some of the original dancers of the musical. From that initial trip, friendships molded with TODD TWALA (original dancer of the musical) and ADELE BLANK (dance captain of the musical). Last year, I returned to South Africa where Todd Twala and Adele choreographed dance numbers from the musical with a new generation of dancers.

 

 

While it’s our role as artists to communicate powerful stories in the best way possible, certain moments in history call for something more. My personal objective is to explore the loss of my father through an investigation of this musical, but I also want to address the social and political setting of South Africa at the time that the musical premiered in its home country and abroad.

 

Ipi N Tombi toured abroad just a year after the Soweto Uprising. My late father captured the musical on film when the dancers arrived in Jerusalem before their world tour. The artists became vocal members of the opposition, using their platform to spread awareness of the oppression their families suffered back home.

 

In 1976, a now iconic photo of a young student shot by police circulated in the newspapers: Sam Nzima’s arresting portrait of a horrified student carrying a thirteen-year old Hector Pieterson, moments after being shot by police. Pieterson’s lifeless body became a symbol, and then a spark for badly needed change to the oppressive system of apartheid in South Africa.

 

I intend to explore this theme in the documentary, revealing the social setting of a country in which music and the arts were such vital instruments in creating change. Learning more about my father’s goals and the aspirations he was never able to fulfill, I will travel to South Africa to delve into the musical’s backstory and deeper meaning, and ultimately, to get to know the young man my father once was. 

 

 

The musical’s story focuses on a man who leaves his Zulu village to find work in the goldmines, despite harsh and inhumane conditions—and in this theme, I'll find a parallel to the story of my father, an Iraqi refugee raised in Israel who eventually found his way to America. With many African men leaving their villages and flocking to Johannesburg in search of opportunity, Ipi N Tombi, initially titled the Warrior, mirrored the reality of apartheid era South Africa at the time.

 

 

Through stories that center on loss and perseverance, we’ll find people who do something positive in the face of tremendous obstacles. We meet a gold miner who dreams of creating a better life for his family but finds his health faltering as a result of his work. Dancers who grew up in extreme poverty but seek to use their gifts to surmount the odds. Choreographers who, in sharing the lessons of their craft and life experiences with a new generation of dancers, find a sense of purpose. Each of these stories is woven together through my journey initiated by loss, the culmination of a project begun by my late father decades ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY THIS CAMPAIGN?  WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE....

 

I've transferred the original negative of Ipi to digital files as well as old super 8 mm and 16 mm film of my parents before their move to America. I have roughly 14 hours of footage from last year's shoot that still needs to be edited. With the money raised in this campaign, I'd like to cover one interview shoot and editing fees in order to create a thirty minute work sample of the documentary thus far. My overall budget is 500K which I've spent 12% from my own funding thus far.  There are still 5 shoots remaining, spanning locations from the California desert to the Eastern Cape to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kruger Park and Europe. Because I want to showcase the political setting of South Africa at the time of the musical's premiere, I will need to bring on a researcher and accumulate archival footage of the Soweto Uprising and footage of the musical seen in South Africa and abroad. 

 

By raising the funds to complete this initial step in creating a strong work sample, we together, can continue this journey in making Ipi. 

 

 

 

 

Wishlist

Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Airfare

Costs $4,800

This would cover the crew's airfare for a needed interview in the work sample.

Crew Labor

Costs $6,000

This would cover crew's labor for the interview for the camera and sound dept.

location expenses

Costs $1,500

Location expenses needed for the interview that are off the beaten path.

Edit

Costs $5,000

This covers editing fees for a three week session.

insurance

Costs $1,800

We make sure that all crew & equipment is safe out there - not just prayers to film Gods.

Production

Costs $900

This would cover meals, mileage and other production expenses.

About This Team

YASMIN (DIRECTOR / PRODUCER) is a California native of Dutch and Israeli/Iraqi origin. When receiving her BFA from Tisch School of the Arts, she directed her first short documentary Children of Bahia in the favelas of Salvador. This short documentary premiered at the Havana Film Festival and SXSW.  Relocating to Los Angeles, she immersed herself in exploring the actor’s craft with actress Lelia Goldoni, icon of the beat scene of cinema and star of John Cassavetes Shadows. 

 

She went on to sculpt her skills as a decorator and stylist in commercials and indie features. In 2010 she created Unmarked Guide, a curated travel series on the hidden gems of Los Angeles and the people who are its treasure.  Bobby and the Midnight Ridaaz was a finalist in the New Filmmakers film festival in 2012. Her shorts from Unmarked Guide screened on Virgin’s in-flight channel Virgin Produced from 2012-2013. Yasmin has produced photo shoots for Mara Hoffman, Natalie Joos and DVF. In 2015, she produced Jesse Jo’s music videos Down Your Drain and Baby Love for acclaimed photographer Olivia Malone and cinematographer Drew Bienemann.

 

In 2017, she directed and produced three short films on groundbreaking South African dancer Tarryn Alberts. Plant the Seed  screened at the Moving Body Moving Image film festival in New York in spring 2018. Currently focused on her feature length documentary Ipi, she loves to create content that explores compelling stories driven by a photographic and curated eye.

 

 

ERIC JUHOLA ( SUPERVISING PRODUCER) is the director and producer of Growing Up Coy, a trans-youth rights documentary, which won 2 best documentary awards, and played at film festivals around the world. Over the course of production, Eric was invited to be a Sundance Fellow and participated in the Sundance Producer’s Lab. The film is being distributed worldwide by Netflix, released in 2017. Previously, Juhola produced Jeremy’s films Broken Heart Land and Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa. Juhola is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where he currently serves on the faculty, teaching visual storytelling and impact producing.

 

 

JEREMY STULBERG (SUPERVISING PRODUCER) is a documentary filmmaker, writer, producer and social justice activist. He is a Sundance Documentary Fellow and the recipient of grants from numerous organizations including the New York State Council on the Arts, The Sundance Documentary Fund, The Tribeca Film Institute Documentary Fund, ITVS, The Colin Higgins Foundation, The Arcus Foundation and The Fledgling Fund.  Jeremy is the producer and editor of Growing Up Coy (NETFLIX) a transgender youth-rights documentary, which was sold to Netflix and released worldwide in 2017 after playing festivals around the world, winning multiple awards. Previously, he directed and produced Broken Heart Land (PBS) an ITVS Co-Production about HIV and homophobia, which premiered on America ReFramed in 2014. That film was the subject of an impact campaign to address homophobia and HIV stigma in the American heartland, and has been sighted as the motivation for the change in local anti-discrimination laws in Oklahoma. Jeremy's debut feature as director/producer was Off The Grid: Life on the Mesa (SUNDANCE CHANNEL) which premiered on The Sundance Channel after winning 8 best documentary prizes at festivals around the world, as well as being nominated for a Gotham Award.  He has also produced and/or edited nationally airing social-issue documentaries such as The Education of  Shelby Knox (PBS, POV), Young Lakota (INDEPENDENT LENS), as well as topical series such as Woman With Gloria Steinem (VICELAND).

 

 

CHRISTOPHER BLAUVELT  (DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY) is a third-generation film craftsman who combines his extensive experience with a fresh creative eye. A protégé of Harris Savides, Chris worked on films for directors Noah Baumbach and David Fincher and operated on Tom Ford’s  A Single Man, Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are, and Gus Van Sant’s Restless. Chris’ work as a cinematographer includes Sofia Coppola’s edgy commentary on spoiled youth, The Bling Ring and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy for director Ned Benson, which premiered at the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals. Chris also lensed Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves, starring Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard and Jesse Eisenberg, which premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, and most recently Certain Women with Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and Laura Dern which premiered at Sundance 2016.

 

Max Rose, starring Jerry Lewis, is another film Chris shot which made its debut at Cannes in 2013 while Chris was busy working on Jeff Preiss’ directorial debut Low Down for producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger. The film tells the story of the renowned but forgotten jazz pianist Joe Albany and stars John Hawkes and Elle Fanning for which Sundance awarded him Best Cinematography at the 2014 festival. I Am Michael for director Justin Kelly, premiered at Sundance in 2015 and also at Sundance in 2016, Chris lensed Indignation, which is the directorial debut of Focus Features veteran James Schamus. Finished 2016 working on Meredith Danluck’s directorial debut State like sleep, starring Michael Shannon and Katherine Waterston. In 2017 Chris was chosen by a life long mentor Gus Van Sant to shoot Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, based on the autobiography of the Portland Oregon native, and quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan played by Joaquin Phoenix, and starring Jonah Hill, Kim Gordon, Rooney Mara and Carrie Brownstein. Finishing the year off with the directorial debut of Chris’ good friend Jonah Hill is Mid 90’s. A story of a teenage boy in Los Angeles struggling with a tough home life, later befriending a group of skateboarders who teach him some tough lessons about class, race and privilege. Stevie is played by Sunny Suljic, his mother, Katherine Waterston and brother Lucas Hedges.  Chris has also been named by Variety and Indiewire as a “Top DP to Watch”. http://www.artistry.net/clients/directors-of-photography/christopher-blauvelt

 

EBRAHIM HAJEE (2nd UNIT DOP) Today Ebrahim is well known amongst top production houses in Cape Town. He has a real street edge to his film style and loves pushing boundaries. His passion lays in documentaries, films and music videos. He is an artist that’s difficult to pigeonhole, and brings a fresh, creative, offbeat approach to his projects.

 

HILDA MERCADO's (CAMERA OPERATOR) credits include feature films, commercials, documentaries, and television series shot in countries like China, Kuwait, Dubai, Bahamas, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and of course United States. Additionally, she’s a member of the Mexican Society of Cinematographers (AMC), something achieved through invitation only. 

 

MUSA (SOUND MIXER) has 24-Years experience in the film and television industry. He works in documentaries, commercials and features in Johannesburg. 

 

 

QUINTON FREDERICKS (FOCUS PULLER) works in the camera department in features and television where Cape Town is his home.  His credits include features such as Iris Warriors, Action Point, Deep End  and the Searchers.  

 

STELLA  (INTERN) is a great help in getting this campaign together.

She's "still trying to figure out if it’s better to be a pro at one thing or to be good at multiple."

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