Before leaving Los Angeles to return to South Africa, Mickey Dube hoped to make films. Feature films. A few months before returning to Johannesburg, he presented Imbazo (The Axe) at the 1995 Ouagadougou Pan-African Cinema and Television Festival (Fespaco). This short film went on to win many prizes in a range of festivals, but was never shown in South Africa.
Now aged 40, Mickey Dube feels that he has achieved nothing over the last six years. He first of all worked for a year for the SABC national television education department. « This service is nepotistic, corrupt, and racist, » he now says. « 90 to 98% of the work is given to whites, and over half to friends, including a travesty of a production company: it is supposedly black because controlled by the industrial group Johnnic, but is run by whites. The outcome is that no black producer has ever signed a single contract. It’s disgusting. »
He set up his own company, Waapiti Productions, and then invested his own money to produce A Walk in the Night in 1997. This television drama, based on a short story by the South African author Alex La Guma, tells the story of a mixed-race man who is so frustrated by his environment that he kills his white neighbour. Even though co-financed by the Ministry of Arts and Culture and the SABC, it has never been programmed. « Its broadcast has been cancelled three times without me being told why« , explains the director.
In 1998, at the request of an independent production company, Mickey Dube directed an episode of the (this time broadcasted) television series Saints, Sinners and Settlers, which dramatised the imaginary testimonies of great figures of the past before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2000, he directed the South African version of the children’s programme Sesame Street, broadcast by the SABC. He resorts to making advertising and promotional films to earn his living. And admits that he is terribly disillusioned. To the point of wondering whether or not he would have been better off staying in Los Angeles.
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