‘The Dream That Refused Me’ is split across four aesthetically distinct chapters that tie together myths, attitudes, and rituals from across South Africa. Powerful and emotionally stirring, a Xhosa poem narrated by Siyabonga Jim draws a narrative line between the ancestral spectres and incandescent landscapes created by collage artist Zas Ieluhee.
We sat down with Jabu to unpack this unique film and the process of making it.
Q: Can you tell us what this film is about?
Jabu: Through the internet ideas are constantly being shared and representations of blackness are constantly evolving as well as being appropriated. The themes of this film are collaboration, translation and interpretation… Myself, the cast, the cine (Deon van Zyl), art director (Wendy Fredriksson) and costume designer (Unathi Mkonto) each had their own interpretation of the Xhosa poem by the narrator Siyabonga Jim, which makes every single colour, shot, or look another layer in representing the spoken poem. In this way, I wanted to take something as ancient and intrinsically African as storytelling to create a modern and contemporary film.
Q: You deliberately chose to create the piece without subtitles. Can you elaborate on that? Does that connect in any way to the use of dance in the film?
Jabu: By focusing on an orator who is performing a poem in Xhosa, we wanted to steer clear of trying to translate directly and rather create many different interpretations through a collaborative process. Everything in the film is connected to the poem and the dance was a way of illustrating things about a relationship that maybe could not be said in words.