One Table Two Elephants

One Table Two Elephants (2018, 84 minutes) is a film about bushmen bboys, a flower kingdom and the ghost of a princess. Entering the city through its plants and wetlands, the many-layered, painful and liberating history of the city emerges as we see how biologists, hip hoppers, and wetland activists each searches for ways to craft symbols of unity and cohesion. But this is a fraught and difficult task. Perhaps not even desirable. Plants, aliens, memories and ghosts keep troubling efforts of weaving stories about this place called Cape Town.

Situated and grounded in lived experiences across a range of groups, this film follows different ways of knowing and tries to be a vehicle toward difficult yet urgently needed conversations about how race, nature and the city are intertwined in our postcolonial world where history is ever present in subtle and direct ways.

This  ‘cinematic ethnography’ is directed towards a wide audience, from the general public, to students and scholars, as it brings texture to understand a city like Cape Town, while providing ample possibilities to translate what is happening “there” to conversations about other cities and surroundings. It is based on years of research in Cape Town and was filmed in 2015 as part of a longer-term research and film-project on ontological politics and urban political ecology.

During 2016 and 2017, a shorter First Cut version (47 minutes) was screened at several universities and cities in the world with feedback becoming part of the editing process, including Durban, Windhoek, Stellenbosch, Grahamstown, New York, Palo Alto, Rome, Munich, Trier, and Stockholm. The film will have its world premiere in 2018.

Created by: Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson. Photography: Johan von Reybekiel. Sound: Jonathan Chiles. Production coordination: Jessica Rattle and Nceba Mangese. Funded by: Swedish Research Council Formas with support from the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation. Produced by: Telltales Film and The Situated Ecologies Platform in collaboration with the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory and the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.