Leslé Ann Arendse

Fellow: History Department, PhD

As a fellow of the CHR, I completed my MA, which examined the subfield of post-apartheid South African biopics in the genre of historical drama with a particular attention to two films by film director Daryne Joshua about individual life stories: Noem My Skollie (2016) on John Fredericks’ life and Ellen: Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies (2018). I contextualised the two films in relation to figures about the scale and subgenres of biopics (in drama) in post-apartheid South Africa showing that there have been some twenty-five such films but with a marked increase in the 2010s, highlighting how the political biography, unlike in the book trade, is overshadowed by the social history biography and especially the gang biography/subgenre earning the Western Cape the title of “Skollywood”.

Starting my PhD in 2021, I currently consider taking this project forward in two ways. The first thinks about how the historian relates films to written sources. The second, more recently in the forum of Robert Morrell’s interest in Southern Theory, would be considering the possibility of gang films in comparative Southern settings, including Brazil with films like City of God (2002) and others.