The Film “The Tailored Suit” was produced as part of my Masters research report. It examines the period of 1950s Sophiatown and its socio-cultural legacy pertaining to race and gender in South Africa. It is inspired by the work of Can Themba, a writer and journalist who worked at Drum magazine in the 1950s.
Below is the abstract from my research report to contextualise the film:
The research report examines the period of 1950s Sophiatown and its socio-cultural legacy pertaining to race and gender. Though the establishment of a cosmopolitan black identity was significant in its undermining of Nationalist Party segregationist ideology, the struggle for equality was predicated on a racial struggle that subsumed a gendered agenda. The work of Can Themba and Drum magazine, which have become mythologized in the contemporary South African imaginary, are interrogated with particular emphasis on one of Themba’s iconic pieces, The Suit. Through engagement with Themba’s text, this research report foregrounds the processes through which black women have been subjected to multiple, compounded subjugation. In response to the representations of black femininity in The Suit, the film, The Tailored Suit, privileges the black woman, Matilda’s, articulations. It thus functions to foreground the agency of marginalised subjects. In articulating from the periphery, the subjugated destabilise the hierarchical social structures that would subordinate and objectify her. By engaging the representations in The Suit, part of an iconic historic moment prefiguring the contemporary socio-cultural milieu, the reimagining in The Tailored Suit offers a fragmented frame of reference, positing an alternate to a homogenising masculine discourse on history.