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Producer/ Director- Jerret Engle
Co-Producer/Cinematographer- Cort Tramontin
In this intimate portrait, four South African township women, studying to be chefs, share a year of opportunity and upheaval as they commute from shacks to internships in luxury hotels Their video diaries and very personal interviews take us inside the struggle to move up the economic ladder in vivid and personal detail and help us view the promise of post-Apartheid South Africa from a new and provocative perspective.
How To Handle A Spoon aims to start a conversation about what people who live in poverty need to succeed. What does “economic empowerment” actually mean in real people’s real lives? Through these women’s stories, we examine challenges that many individuals in developing countries face as they struggle to claim their rightful place in the modern world economy. The film follows three women students and their young advisor through a one-year culinary program at the Eziko Cooking and Catering Centre in Langa Township, outside Cape Town. Filmed over the course of an entire year, in part by the women themselves, the film provides access to a rarely-seen world. Viewers visit cramped homes, meet families and scrutinize new foods. We share anxieties over uncertain commutes, housing crises, family emergencies and experience the sometimes-terrifying world of the modern corporate workplace.
This is the story of commuting between worlds. Here “economic inequality” is not an abstract. It is the vivid, surprising, and sometimes moving details we experience in the challenging terrain of these women’s daily lives
We follow three students. PHIONA, is a devoted mother of three small kids, whose serious ambitions are challenged and whose family is stressed, simply by the complications of her arduous and uncertain commute to work. DOSH, is an ambitious striver and a quick study, but her various schemes and material aspirations threaten to land her deeply in debt. The third, THANDI, is on an emotional roller coaster as she struggles to rebuild her confidence from the ravages of a damaging childhood and hard-knock adult life. Annotating their stories is FEZI, a young, previous graduate of the culinary program, who seems to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Born seven years after Apartheid’s end, Fezi’s adult life has been inspired by a sense of post-Apartheid possibility. She now approaches her job and the training of others with a sense of mission. Ambitious, funny and full of hope, Fezi is an insightful guide to the older students’ journeys. These individuals will help build the future for their country. Their personal interviews and intimate home movies let viewers walk a bit in their shoes and create involving contexts for their fears and dreams. Some will make it, some will not. Through the melting pot of a busy kitchen, How To Handle A Spoon explores uniquely African perspectives on this journey. Food offers a shared and involving portal through which to enter and experience this under-explored world.
WHY THIS STORY MATTERS
We quickly understood these individual stories provided a unique opportunity to look at the ways political and economic realities play out in the intimate details of people’s daily working lives. It’s a story only long-term reporting can reveal. And we do actually feel it is urgent information.
A deeper understanding of the dreams and frustrations of individuals is vital to connect our imaginations to the challenges of the developing world and its increasing inequalities. Challenges like faulty infrastructure, poor schools, colliding cultures, scarce credit, and inadequate, inequitable housing can profoundly shape an individual. We have only to read reports of terrorism or xenophobia to see how personal trauma and frustration can be exploited to have serious and sometimes international consequences.
Growing economic inequality demands that we more profoundly understand how to enable people to help themselves. To do that, we must hear their stories as only they can tell them.
Our edit is basically complete and near fine cut. We are currently working to complete fund raising for final post- production, music rights, and audience outreach.
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