What the soil remembers

Work in progress



Documentary short film

Original Title:

Wat Die Grond Onthou


English, Afrikaans and Xhosa



José Cardoso


Adrian Van Wyk


South Africa and Ecuador


Feature film



Still 01 – Die Vlakte neighborhood

Short Synopsis: 

A vibrant and diverse community flourishes in the fertile South African lands Today its elders tell the story of how their people were uprooted from neighboring lands and thrown into deserted areas; the suffering separation left scars but never transformed them into individualistic beings. Despite the forced separation that occurred in the 1960s, today they remain together thanks to their wisdom and faith. A University was built on their lands, and today this institution accepts their public guilt, but to return the land seems impossible. The elders light up the screen with their way of approaching the problem; Community wisdom, spirituality, and patience faces what apartheid tried to take away from them fifty years before.


“What The Soil Remembers” traces the story of a once vibrant and diverse community that flourished in the fertile wine lands of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, the elders from this uprooted community that was located at the centre of the town tell the story of how they were forcefully removed and relocated into deserted barren areas; they reflect on how the suffering and separation has left scars, leaving them only with nostalgic memories. Despite the forced separation that occurred in the 1960s, today they remain collectively hopeful that reparations would meet them. The University that was built on their land is riddled with guilt as it was the epicentre of apartheid thought. A few community members collaborate to hold this institution responsible for its part in the apartheid enforced displacement which the institution tries to sidestep. The elders, who are looking to create a better life for their children’s children, light up the screen with their attempts towards changing the narrative and gaining some form of historical restitution from the University. “What The Soil Remembers” documents the journey towards change sparked by a few community members who seek to make a difference in their community.

Still 02 – Die Vlakte ex resident interacting

Visual concept: 

A recollection of household experiences and communal neighborhood life. A strong sense of community interaction and family bonds were found within this district of Stellenbosch. The narrative shifts to how the legacies of the past removals still affect their day to day experience within Stellenbosch and their search for justice. An array of interviews, speeches and «street» verbal expressions to guide the story, accompanied by visual versification through observational documentary metaphors.

Still 03 – Die Vlakte ex resident interview
Still 04 – University protest at Rector Inauguration

Shooting Date: 

2015 – 2016 – 2020 – 2021

Locations of shooting: 

Winelands, Stellenbosch & Cape Town – Western Cape (South Africa)

Still 05 – University new Rector
Still 06 – Die Vlakte ex resident interview

Production company: 


Production company profile: 

Nomadic production house that has settled in Spain, Mexico, South Africa and currently in Ecuador, developing fiction, animation and documentary films, on subjects that drives around surrealism, consciousness and decoloniality. Selected in RAI Pulcinella Awards, Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, Ann Arbor, La Habana, among others being its work awarded at Anim!Arte and CSFF, 2021.


Azania Rizing

Co-production company profile: 

Azania Rizing Productions is an award-winning film and media company based in Cape Town, South Africa. The company aims to map the influence of African legacies around the world by facilitating international dialogue by linking local and global stories.

Still 07 – Die Vlakte ex resident at the Mosque
Still 08 – Die Vlakte ex resident interview
Still 09 – Die Vlakte ex resident interview

Contact details of the director: 



Director’s biography: 

Learning animation in Spain, he travels to Mexico and South Africa where he works in fiction films sJosé Cardoso has settled in Spain, Mexico, South Africa, and currently in Ecuador, developing fiction films, animation, and documentaries on themes that revolve around surrealism, conscience, and anti-colonialism. His work has been selected for the RAI Pulcinella Awards, Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, Cinélatino de Toulouse, La Habana, among others. He recently won awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, FINCALI Colombia and the China International New Media Short Film Festival, 2021.

Director’s main filmography: 

Films :

– Iwianch, the Devil Deer, feature documentary, 2020- Encounter, fiction short film, 2019
– Ancestral Song, animation short film, 2010
– Un maravilloso estado de mísera y morbosa no felicidad, animation short film, 2009

Festivals :

– Laureate : 11. China International New Media Short Film Festival, China.
– Laureate : 59. Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA.
– Official Selection : 42. Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, Habana, Cuba.
– Official Selection : 43. Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya. Spain.

Director’s statement: 

A genuine process of reconciliation between two parties that have historically been separated due to racial classifications, an exploration of the power of collective lobbying to bring promises into action. A piece of national and global interest because similar situations are occurring in major universities in the world. Not only portraying the side of those who have been marginalized by society but exploring the side of those who have benefitted from historical privileging.

Producer’s biography: 

Creative producer, historian and writer from Cape Town, South Africa. He currently works in film and media alongside the production company Azania Rizing, where is completing a documentary that received production funding from the South African National Film Foundation. Interested in a global independent context that fuses, remixes and challenges conventional notions of «history».

Producer’s statement: 

An opportunity to spark robust dialogue and discussion surrounding the traumas inflicted by the unjust apartheid spatial policies. These types of forced removals are not only common to a South African context and have happened across different locations around the world, where «esteemed» Tertiary Academic forcefully remove communities in order to settle their institutional ivory towers. Failing to provide inclusive learning environments even though there is an acknowledgement to the injustices.


30 min. / Documentary at Post production stage / 16:9 Color


Protegido: Professionals info / What the soil remember

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