Originally Published: March 17, 2005
2 Local Producers Bring Africa to Washington, DC and to Area Students
Tamarah’ s mother is dying of AIDS; Sisonke raises her son and her younger brothers on her own; Londi faces life in a crowded township house with alcoholic relatives. All these young women have dreams, but only one will overcome the obstacles to fully achieve her goals. This is the story of three young women coming of age in post- apartheid South Africa. The world premiere of The Way Forward: An MHz Special Presentation airs Wednesday, March 23 at 9 PM on MHz. The fifty- minute documentary is scheduled to broadcast on stations throughout the country, including KCET, KET, MPT and WETA.
New York Times/Washington Times writer Mvemba Dizolele, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will host this special presentation beginning with an in- depth interview with Fairfax County resident and Director Kathryn Karnell. A half- hour discussion follows the fifty- minute documentary in which a studio audience of 40 Orange High School students and their South African- born teacher participate in a lively question and answer session.
The students will explore issues raised by the documentary including how success is defined, how the characters inspire their own lives, the intricacies of South African culture, and what the characters’ stories may have looked like if apartheid had remained law.
Describing the impetus for the project, Director and Co- Producer Kathryn Karnell comments, “As an American filmmaker living in Pietermaritzburg, I became intrigued by the contradiction I saw between the possibilities created by newfound political freedom and the reality of poverty. I was humbled by the challenges these young black women were facing. I wanted to explore the factors that would determine whether they would succeed or fail.”
Though continuing to face the challenges wrought from years of state- sanctioned racial oppression, South Africans hold an optimistic outlook for their future. They reflect with pride across diverse communities – black and white, rich and poor – about the way South Africa has emerged from the nightmare of apartheid.
Before earning her Masters degree in 1996 from Syracuse University, Mrs. Karnell first studied Sociology and worked with homeless adults as a case manager in Chicago for two years. It was through her work in this field that she determined a way to reveal and create a context for the experience of the disenfranchised. Mrs. Karnell has been producing social commentary documentaries ever since. Her topics have included migrant farm workers in upstate New York, Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, artists in Zimbabwe, and her current project, young women in South Africa. Also an area resident, Co- Producer Lisa Zugschwerdt attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and attended TC Williams High School in Alexandria.