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"The Dream That Refused Me" - an Afrofuturist visual poem by Jabu Nadia Newman

"The Dream That Refused Me" is a Romance short film production by director Jabu Nadia Newman, exploring the new aesthetics of the African diaspora by intentionally disrupting ideas of Black culture through poetry, internet iconography and dance.

Commissioned by Nowness as part of the No Direct Flight series, this powerful film is woven together by Xhosa poet Siyabonga Jim, who acts as a narrative line between ancestors, CGI avatars (played by South Africa’s first CGI model Kim Zulu) and incandescent landscapes created by collage artist Zas Ieluhee. The film is deliberately left without subtitles, as Newman explains: “Everything in the film is connected to the (Xhosa) poem and the dance was a way of illustrating things about a relationship that maybe could not be said in words” - this opens up the viewing experience, allowing the audience more space to create their own interpretations.

Newman has developed a distinct voice in her filmmaking, one that deftly masters tonal shifts between heartfelt emotion and satire - giving her films both humour and beauty. Case in point is the Ethnic-ify app scene that takes cultural appropriation to its satirical height where an overly enthusiastic vlogger Hello Nice, virtually tries on different ‘tribal’ adornments. The intention was to “challenge the act of amalgamating ‘African aesthetics’. Too many meanings, markers and signifiers of different African cultures get confused or mashed together in the media.”

Newman is currently working on a number of projects, including a film anthology that is due out later this year. In the meantime, catch the full film on our website:

About Romance Films

Romance Films currently represents directors Greg Gray, Terence Neale, Nicole Ackermann, Jabu Nadia Newman, Justice Mukheli and Emilie Badenhorst. Founded in 2017, our diverse lineup of directors and producers allow us to be flexible and focused. Backed by a solid production infrastructure, we’ve been able to create stand out content that we can be proud of. Above all else, we put creative work first.

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