Boardgame, or From the Ranks to Field Marshall / animated film

Boardgame, or From the Ranks to Field Marshal. 2017. 8min. Stop-frame animation. Charcoal on paper and found footage. See film here

The film is an adaption of a boardgame produced during World War I, From the Ranks to Field Marshal. In this Union of South Africa version recruitment is political. It is a game of obstacle and reward that barely passes Begin. For these recruits Home is denied by the 1913 Land Act. Weapons are replaced by tools of labour. Accommodation is controlled within a system of closed compounds. There is push-back when the men set off for France to the sound of S.E.K Mqhayi’s sarcasm-laden poem The Dark Army: “Oh yes, of course we’re grateful, when our mother country spares us a thought and sets us to work in the harbours when it finds itself in trouble.”

The film was part of the exhibition This, of course, is a work of the imagination. Mu.ZEE, Ostend. Sept 2017-Jan 2018.

Animation: Wendy Morris
Camera: Jean Delbeke
Editing: Jean Delbeke, Wendy Morris
Original music: Yannick Franck

Animation technique : charcoal drawing on paper
Poem: The Dark Army / Umkosi wema-daka. S.E.K. Mqhayi.
1916. English translation: Jeff Opland. Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature. Performed in Xhosa and English by Bulelwa Nosilela
Voices: From the play, Ukutshona ko Mendi… Did We Dance : Lulamile Nikani, Mongezi Ncwadi, Xolani Ngesi, Amandla Vakala, Sanga Mabulu, Thapelo Kutoane, Nhlanhla Mahlangu. 2012. Steve Biko Centre, King Williams Town.

Languages: English, Xhosa

World War I film footage: Imperial War Museum, London.

Film made with the generous support of VAF and GoneWest. 2017