Films & Schedules

  • Sea Point Days

  • François Verster

South Africa
English, Afrikaans
94 minutes

Production Company:
Luna Films/Undercurrent Film and Television
Lucinda Englehart
François Verster, Peter Liechti
François Verster, Stefan Sundlof, Peter Neal
François Verster
Peter Coyte, Felix Laband

TIFF Tags: Documentary 

Saturday September 0603:45PM AMC 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0908:30PM AMC 9 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1205:30PM VARSITY 7 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town, South Africa, is a gorgeous Atlantic beachfront that includes a recreation area with several swimming pools. During the days of apartheid, the space was for “whites only.” When apartheid ended nearly twenty years ago, blacks flocked to integrate it. Sea Point Days uses this picture-perfect location as a springboard to examine the dramatic transitions still taking place in South Africa.

Sea Point is a microcosm attracting people of every age, religion and class, and the large demographic of elderly whites living nearby reinforces the sense of one generation giving way to another. “There's no place for whites in this country,” reflects one woman. But others disagree, and the film juxtaposes many contrasting viewpoints, from the optimistic to the pessimistic, old and young, rich and poor.

Director François Verster previously made the documentary A Lion's Trail, about the history of the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” In Sea Point Days, his attention to music evokes South Africa's diversity, from the freedom songs of protesting black workers, to a Yiddish melody sung by an old Jewish woman, to the human beat box of a young street dancer. The music blends romanticism with harsh reality, calling to mind the sensibilities of Terence Davies, whose new film Of Time and the City, which is screening at the Festival this year, ponders the very different coastal town of Liverpool. Dividing the film into five thematic sections, Verster employs an eclectic visual palette, with beautiful shots of bathers swimming underwater, grainy surveillance footage of vagrants at night, and 8mm home movies of Sea Point during the days of segregation. Out of this impressionistic landscape, a few recurring characters emerge, including a black homeless man trying to better himself and a white activist seeking to improve local conditions.

The march of progress also brings commercial development that threatens to return an air of exclusivity to Sea Point, a movement that is feared by activists. What makes this place so special? “Water is love and life,” says a Sea Point groundskeeper. “Without water, there cannot be life and there cannot be love.”

Cameron Bailey

François Verster was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and received an M.A. at the University of Cape Town. He has taught extensively at universities, and designed the documentary directing course at City Varsity College in Cape Town. He has directed the feature-length documentaries Pavement Aristocrats: The Bergies of Cape Town (99), When the War Is Over (02), A Lion's Trail (02), The Mother's House (05) and Sea Point Days (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award