Saskia Vredeveld’s films and photographs

Swan Lake Slums

Against the backdrop of a harsh reality, 5 teenagers – from the first generation of ‘born frees’ in a post-apartheid South Africa, dream of a better future through music and dance. Now 7 years on they are young adults and question Mandela’s promises.



In 2008 Dutch based, South African filmmaker, Saskia Vredeveld filmed five children with an extraordinary drive to escape everyday life in Cape Town’s slums through music and dance. Every one of them cherished basically the same dream, the dream of having a voice and an identity of their own.

Swan Lake Slums is a character driven ‘coming of age’ film, exploring the lives of five youngsters over several years. Their lives are a metaphor for the story of South Africa’s transition to democracy. They inherited a country still burdened with inequality and violence and now have to face up to the challenges, problems and responsibilities of adult life. Can they still afford to dream and what expectations do they have of the future?

Swan Lake Slums will be a mixture of observational documentary and choreographed, dreamlike sequences; a black ballerina in a white tutu dancing gracefully between the shacks in the township. Underneath it all, however, are images and sequences showing the harsh reality of how our characters try and make a life for themselves in the townships of the Western Cape.

A Co-Production between:  Harmen Jalving, Saskia Vredeveld (Dutch Co-Producer / Director – Peacefield Films) and Marc Schwinges (South African Co-Producer) Underdog Productions / Transmedia Africa.

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Ela Gandhi
The Beloved Country
Swan Lake Slums
White Poverty
Self Portrait, Roger Ballen
Leaving Mandela Park
The Asylum
Letters to Zohra