Like for many people, last year was a whirlwind for 33-year-old award-winning former Durban-based documentarian and Greenpeace Africa digital mobilisation officer, Angelo C Louw. His was somewhat of a good whirlwind however … filled with awards and accolades!
Angelo has been singled out as one of the most influential young professionals on the continent by The Young Independents Southern African Development Community Top 100 for 2019. His Greenpeace documentary, Gutted: The Fight of Kalk Bay Fishers, has won multiple awards in film festivals from New York to Nigeria.
The film’s selection in the second annual uMgungundlovu Film Festival was a full-circle moment for the first-time filmmaker from Randburg, whose interest in movie making began when he interned at a local newspaper in Durban (his former hometown) 10 years ago.
“I spent weekends trying to make videos for their website. I wasn’t trained and would struggle for hours trying to figure out the software. Looking back, I wasn’t very good at it, but if I hadn’t pushed on, I’d have never known what it felt like to have people all over the world watching and enjoying my work,” he says.
With Gutted, I learned that if you truly want to make something impactful, so that it truly captures that essence of a community, you need to work with people from that community.
Angelo says that the success of his documentary feels surreal and he is waiting for someone to wake him up. He is especially proud of the tangible impact it has had on our country’s fishing community, who have struggled to obtain fishing licenses. Since the release of his documentary, they’ve been granted longer fishing licenses by the South African government.
“I guess every journalist hopes their work will have a tangible impact on lives. Now, fishers across the country are in a better position. The media is a very powerful driver of change.”
Some of Angelo’s fondest childhood memories include watching fishers line up on the piers along the Golden Mile. But, he is saddened by the plastic pollution on Durban beaches.
“My career has taken me all over the world, but Durbs has always been my happy place. I always imagined moving back here one day so that I could be near the ocean and just be inspired every day. It’s just really sad to see how this beautiful place is being ruined by plastic. It’s so ugly. Our government really needs to do something about it, urgently.”
Angelo is currently heading up Greenpeace Africa’s anti-plastic project. “I just want my kids to see the world as I did. I want them to look back and feel as privileged I have been to know the endless beauty of our country.”
He is so intrigued by Durban – the good and the bad – that it features quite prominently in his upcoming work.
“I’m at a point where the possibilities seem endless. I’m wrapping up my novel and currently talking to some filmmakers about collaborating on a few projects. Being such a melting pot of cultures, Durban is such an interesting backdrop to any story, and there is so much potential for its film industry.”
He hopes to work with up-and-coming local talent to bring his vision to life.
“With Gutted, I learned that if you truly want to make something impactful, you need to work with people from that community. It helps achieve authenticity. There is so much to be done and achieved in the world if we only work together!”
Details: IG and Twitter: @angeloclouw