“IF YOU MAKE A GOOD FILM, NOBODY CARES WHAT COLOUR YOU ARE”
By: Takudzwa Makoni
Abby Ginzberg is slight and unassuming. Her perfectly coiffed hair and American west-coast bonhomie however, mask a will of iron, forged in the fires of other peoples’ adversity.
According to the Berkley Law Review, of which Ginzberg is a graduate, she has been producing and directing award-winning documentary films since 1983. Her work has focused on character-driven stories, racial and gender discrimination and social justice issues, and has been shown in film/video festivals and broadcast on public television networks nationally and internationally.
Miss Ginzberg graced the Durban University of Technology’s Arts Campus with her presence on Friday, sharing her experiences as a film-maker and documenter, as she visits South Africa to contribute to the annual Durban International Film Festival. “I thought we had a good discussion about the challenges of documentary filmmaking in both the US and South Africa and I was impressed by how committed your (DUT Journalism) students were to trying to get the process ‘right’, stated Ginzberg.
According to Berkely Law Review, Ginzberg’s recent films include A Tale of Two Cities which won a CINE Golden Eagle award and Opportunity of a Lifetime. Ginzberg has produced numerous award-winning films documenting the successes of programs for at-risk and under-served youth that deserve, but rarely get public attention. These films, whose “stars” include college-bound, low income students (Vanguard in the Vanguard), graduates of successful drug court programmes (Recovering Lives, Uncovering Dreams), and AmeriCorps members (Everyday Heroes), without her sensitivity and her tenacity, these compelling stories would never be told.
“I never set out to make “black movies” or “hispanic movies”. It just so happened that a lot of those stories fascinate me, and are worth telling,” Ginzberg said.
Given South Africa’s well-chronicled youth –based issues, Miss Ginzberg’s work will no doubt add perspective to this year’s Durban International Film Festival, where her recent documentary on struggle icon Albie Sachs, will be featured.
After practicing law for over a decade, Ginzberg decided to pursue her passion- film. So began a career that has spawned over 30 films. She has told stories about trailblazing women and minority judges; she has chronicled The Life and Trials of Arthur Kinoy, which portrayed civil rights lawyer Kinoy’s landmark cases which began with the Rosenbergs and continued through Watergate; she has chronicled the American civil rights movement, and its aftermath, and has made more than 10 films about discrimination in the legal profession. She was selected as a 2008 Gerbode Foundation Fellow.