Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival (Overview)

Film exists as an intrinsic part of the arts, and as a facet of media. It is a boundless domain of creative expression, can convey a multitude of multifaceted messages etc.

Films are made to inspire, to pay homage, and through the basest sentimentality- to be symbolic of the incomparable human spirit.

Fashion is not bereft of a connection to film. While fashion manifests itself as a tangible result of inspiration, design creation and energy, film and fashion working in accord becomes the authority of contemporary pop culture’s power.

The genre of Fashion Film was first articulated by David Simms, Bruce Webber, and the much revered Karl Lagerfeld. Since it’s inception, it has been embraced by some internationally acclaimed fashion houses and their stars, including John Galliano, Burberry, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Versage, Alexander McQueen etc. They have used the genre as a way of showcasing their brands from the SHOW Studio in London, to screens across the globe; Beyond merely the clothes, they wish to have a film reel of visual expression for the purpose of expressing the creative processing behind the image of the brands and their supposed clientele. For these fashion houses the fashion film allows the individual interpretation of  meanings garnered from films, to be doubly more emphasized through the personal relevance the brands film might evoke through emotional responses inducing reflectivity.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the 1st Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival in Crossley & Webb’s Vintage Automobile studio in Cape Town – the 1st Fashion Film Festival in Africa, and to become an annual event bringing together the global network of filmmakers, fashion foragers and their affiliates.

The event’s official site stated that: “As the creative hub of sub Saharan Africa, Cape Town is the perfect city to host Africa’s first Fashion Film Festival. Launching in the same year the city is World design Capital adds gravitas to this auspicious event. The city is already a top destination for fashion shoots and a prime location for international film crews and has a wealth of local talent in both the fashion and film industries. This even provides the opportunity to marry these two thriving industries in the city.” IMG_5748

Picture courtesy of Popupblog

I understood, from the event, that the organizers wished to bring filmmakers,writers, fashion and poignant cultural figures together in order to create visionary content by :exploring every facet of fashion through moving image, through illustrations, photography,music,costume/apparel and the written word.

The event was MC’d by Radio personality Bailey Schneider, with Natalie Backer contributing to the evening program.

I was in awe of seeing Fred Sweet, the producer of the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival and the International Fashion Film Festival, in attendance, as well as  Mikkel Aerkevik from Norway, talking about the Oslo Fashion Film Festival. Both gave a certain level of substance to the event.

I watched most of the films and some really stood out to me for their foolhardy pursuits of narrative without captivating imagery, while some did not even need a message as audiences reconciled with the incredible figures in the films and the fashion that emphasized the reason we celebrate clothing.

“Immortal game” is a 6-time nominated film by Amber Moelter and Louis Baretto Carillo ,set in Croatia, and the narrative was based on a dangerous chess game. The central protagonist looked strangely like Olga Kurylenko and Ashley Olsen, and the ambiance of the film felt like Audrey Hepburn was in James Bond:Casino Royale.

The  film “Dream nation” by Studio DT, reminded me of a Mr Price-meets-Adidas advert  because of the way in which a multitude of  race color, clothing fabric and energetic interactions were filmed.

“Elven Sky” maintained the motif of female empowerment with a Native American theme of Warrior chic-meets-hippie. One could liken it to the movie “300”, had the cast been in haute couture. It was a debauched epic of a fashion film by Warrick McLeod.

I was dazzled by the film”Mia”, by Aviv Kosloff. It is a German production and would make an excellent car and diamond advert.

Solveig Selj’s “No wallflower” was the exact replica of Woolworths advertisement before Candice Swanepoel steamrolled in.

Raul Rosillo’s film “Quimera” was one of my favorites.  The clothing was in Matador designs set up in a Spanish relic isle. The narrative was fierce woman who dine on death- the Last supper of style essentially.

Alexander Hankoff’s “Dark Narcissus”lookbook had an androgynous model who gorgeously has the look combo of Cara Delevigne  and Ke$ha. The narrative was entrenched in the supernatural mythos of Bloody Mary with her mirror mimicry leading to ones peril.

“Boulevard” had amazing music, Paris noir street-style with Dior-like monochrome.

Not that I am bias with heavy patriotism but Andrea Gwynn’s film was a South Africa production commissioned by mining company Anglo Gold was one of the best contributions to the Fashion Film Festival. It was an underground jewel aesthetic: All aspects of mineral mining to their end product brought to visual delight. Models were drenched in golden liquid which then became jewelry. There were Bodysuit chain jewelry too for the trendy. The jewelry was juxtaposed design meeting with the dimensions of grime.

“I’ll get there” was  filmed in true cinema style with an epic score. Menswear with Geometric patterns on Knitwear.

“Isonomia” was probably the most socially conscious and pop culture adjacent film there. There was the nucleus of same sex love, with Snakes, Dusty suits and a Lady gaga-like  justice of the peace at several weddings. The lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Born this way” inspired this piece as Love is the theme, as is embracing ones true self, and dusting away self-doubt.

“You are it” was a Kenyan fashion film set in large plains and green landscapes. the narrative was of Curses being passed on, evident through he apparel transformation of the central antagonist and protagonist. The title refers to the tag game “you’re it!” and means the only way to survive is though passing the curse on.

There were many films worthy of wins, but only a few got the grand prizes.

The winning Fashion Film of the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Category with a $ 5 000 prize is Ernst Heusser for “Wanderlust”.

 BEST ACTRESS goes to: Kim Lysette in “Alive”

BEST ACTOR goes to Oliver Baggerman from “The Long Road”

BEST HAIR goes to “Quimera”

BEST MAKE UP goes to “Immortal Game”

BEST FASHION goes to “Lovers Game”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS goes to “Black Era – Court of the Ants”

BEST ART DIRECTION goes to “Arcade” by Kirsten Goss

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY goes to Pablo Clemente for Pasos de Sirena

BEST DIRECTOR goes to Samual A Martin for “Alive”

BEST PICTURE goes to Damien Krisi for “Urban Hippie”

Big Congratulations go out to Adrian Lazarus. I got to work with him at Fashion Week last year, and this year he orchestrated the 1st ever Fashion Film Festival in Africa, in collaboration with: Mercedes-Benz, Cape Town Fashion Council, M.A.C., GHD, Truth Coffee Roasting, David Tlale, Gavin Rajah, Milk and Honey, Craig Port, Jo Carlin, Selfie, Spilt Milk Designs, Lara Klawikowski, Expresso Show, Pana Television, Amazing Spaces,Luxury Brands etc.

One hopes this event will eventually receive the attention owed to it by audiences globally, and that continuously full attendance will be one facet of validation that the Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival will be here for a while – After all: the aim is not to be the next Cannes Film Festival but slowly mold a self-sustaining and unique contribution to the many festivals that exist globally.

Spot me in this insert of the event. Xx

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