Film and Johannesburg’s Ponte City

The German writer Norman Ohler described Johannesburg’s Ponte City, Africa’s tallest residential building, thus: “Ponte sums up all the hope, all the wrong ideas of modernism, all the decay, all the craziness of the city. It is a symbolic building, a sort of white whale, it is concrete fear, the tower of Babel, and yet it is strangely beautiful.” A new documentary by Ingrid Martens, Africa Shafted, adds to the wide variety of cultural and artistic interest in Ponte, home to around 4000 people in Hillbrow, on the edge of downtown Johannesburg. The film purports to look at xenophobia through situating itself in the intense and somewhat claustrophobic surrounding of the tower lifts, which link the 52 stories, housing nationalities from all across Africa. In these lifts, the film encounters residents and their feelings toward one another. The trailer does indeed look interesting.

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