“I want to talk to you,” says a female voice, over a close-up of the speaker’s resolute face. And so begins the story of 58-year-old Mothiba Grace Bapela, a Black South African woman who, like many others, has had a tough life. Early on in One Take Grace we see Bapela cleaning a toilet in somebody’s house. It’s a significant scene, because she’s always worked in the service of other people. She rarely saw her own children, who were raised by her mother. When she was able to, she pursued a career as an actor.
Over the course of ten years, the multidisciplinary artist Lindiwe Matshikiza and her collaborators used a range of cameras, one if them fitted with a fisheye lens, as she followed Bapela going about her daily life. The lens creates an otherworldly visual effect that is accentuated by a soundscape of repetitive music. The scenes of Bapela’s activities are complemented by animation and audio recordings of re-enacted traumatic memories. At the end of this powerful film, Bapela sums up her own life with a simple question: “They say a woman holds the sharp end of the knife. But did it have to be so hard?”
Nominated for the IDFA Award for Best First Feature