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Where do I stand?

Date Released: Tue, 19 April 2011 13:58 +0200

Where do I stand? is a powerful new documentary that is already being used in university classrooms across South Africa and the U.S.. Called "brilliant" and "compelling," Where Do I Stand? captures the experiences and perspectives of seven young people during the xenophobic attacks that broke out in South Africa in 2008. These attacks caught many South Africans off guard, as they were shocked by violence that felt like a violation of the principles of their newly democratic rainbow nation. The film uses the attacks as a window into the young people’s lives, as they think deeply about their actions during and after this violence and carve out their place in this complex and divided country

Where do I Stand was screened to Psychology Honours students, Masters in Clinical and Counselling students as well as staff members. The documentary lived up to its title with many of us in the room questioning our position and perspectives on the so called xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Molly was keen to point out that her movie was not about xenophobia but rather about moral dilemmas and the struggle that young people have when they try to place themselves and their actions within adult or mainstream frameworks that seek to make meaning of their actions. The screening was equally as moving as it was thought provoking with frequent gasps of horror, sighs of empathy or sadness and heads shaking in disappointment, in agreement, and in shame coming from the audience members. This strong documentary was followed by energetic and engaged discussion from the audience, many of whom were interested in the position of the documentary maker in the process. Many of our students questioned the choices that Molly had made and asked her questions about the interview and editing process of making her documentary. (Dr Trudy Meehan)

The film is not about xenophobia specifically, but uses the attacks as a window and address topics that cut across multiple disciplines including education, history, sociology, psychology, political science, and philosophy. Key issues in the film include youth, education, xenophobia, immigration, community, difference, the choices that young people make in difficult moral situations, influences that adult behavior plays on youth, what it means to take a stand and concepts of the resistor and bystander. A professor at the University of Hong Kong called the film “very provocative” and is already using it in a course entitled, "Poverty, Development, and the Next Generation Challenges for a Global World.”

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