This is National Wake: Screening and Q&A with Mirissa Neff and Vivien Goldman

In a special collaboration with the Roxy Cinema, Pioneer Works is pleased to present a screening of Mirissa Neff’s acclaimed filmic portrait of “the band that defied apartheid.” This is National Wake recounts the story of a multiracial punk rock band, in 1970s South Africa, whose members and fans smashed every law to taste freedom—and documented themselves doing so in stunning Super 8.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director led by Vivien Goldman, icon of music and journalism and the “punk professor” at NYU.

In 1979, South Africa’s fascist government sought to keep blacks and whites separate and unequal at all costs. But three young musicians — Ivan Kadey, a white guitarist from Johannesburg’s Jewish side, and Gary and Punka Khoza, two Black Shangaan brothers from Soweto — dared to launch National Wake. In a time and place where it was illegal for these young artists to play or live together, their band and its fans fought back with music.

Brilliant archival footage of National Wake serves as the core of Neff’s film—a documentary that eschews on-camera interviews to take the form, instead, of oral history made flesh. This is National Wake is a dreamlike immersion into the wild journey of a band whose vision of an anti-racist world resounds as loudly today as their Afro-punk sound.

Mirissa Neff is a filmmaker, photographer, and journalist whose work has often centered around themes of race, music, and the power of images to help people imagine new collective futures. She has worked as a producer and correspondent for numerous public television and radio programs. This is National Wake premiered at Sheffield DocFest in the UK and has won numerous awards on the festival circuit worldwide.

Vivien Goldman is a writer, broadcaster, educator, and musician. Her most recent two books are Revenge of the She Punks (Texas) and The Book of (Marley’s) Exodus (Crown). An anthology of her journalism, Rebel Musix: Scribe On A Vibe, will be published this year by White Rabbit in the UK and Hat and Beard in the US—and will include a version of her recent five-part article for Pioneer Works Broadcast on Bad Mind Music.