An artist paints a caricature of South African president Jacob Zuma that provokes a lawsuit, death threats and a massive street protest. An Afrikaan musician devises a stage character based on an archetypal African dictator to more freely comment on his community and his country. For a group of designers in Soweto, their fashion creations and style are manifestations of freedom. A photographer dedicates her life to documenting the LGBT community and exposing hate crimes that go unnoticed by the government and mainstream media. While one Johannesburg-based band is overtly political, another band makes a conscious decision to not deal with politics. Shield and Spear explores a constellation of stories about art, music, identity, race, and freedom of expression in South Africa, twenty years into democracy.

The film documents what it’s like to live and work as an artist in this new democracy. It’s a story about what comes after the jubilation and celebration of a newly won freedom when you’re faced with the real complexities of being a “Rainbow Nation.” Shield and Spear explores the areas where art and politics intersect. It’s a film about creative identity in a place where issues of race, class and history are impossible to ignore.

Shield and Spear features the contemporary South African artists and musicians; Brett Murray, BLK JKS, Zanele Muholi, Gazelle, The Brother Moves On, Roger Ballen and The Smarteez. With appearances by Fokofpolisiekar, Spoek Mathambo, Athi Patra Ruga, Jack Parow, Ferial Haffajee, Yolanda, DJ Invizable, Motel Mari, Dirty Paraffin, Lloyd Gedye, Atiyyah Khan, Milisuthando Bongela and more.

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Directed by Petter Ringbom
Executive Produced by Marquise Stillwell
Produced by Alysa Nahmias and Petter Ringbom

2014 / 90 min

May Fly and Opendox Production 



Official Selection: 
Hot Docs - 2014 World Premiere
Sheffield Doc/Fest - 2014 European Premiere
Lincoln Center Sound + Vision - 2014 U.S. Premiere
Durban Int'l Film Festival - 2014 African Premiere
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Göteborg Film Festival

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Twitter: @alysanahmias