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  Director's Bio  
     
 
 
  
        
 
 
   
  Kiersten Dunbar Chace
CEO Founder Mondé World Films
Producer / Director / Photographer
 
     
 
 
  Producer / Director  
 
 
 

 

 

After witnessing firsthand (14 years) the social injustice and racial inequality within the Coloured communities of South Africa, Chace produced her first feature length documentary film 'I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured - Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope'. This historic account is one of the first films to explore the legacy of Apartheid from the viewpoint of the Cape Coloured people, an Apartheid race category for those who were neither black, nor white. Chace produced, directed and edited the film and has been featured in and has won awards at several US and International Film Festivals.

Chace has also produced two short films, 'Tami Tushie's Toys' and 'Solveig - The Life and Artwork of Solveig Arneng Johnson'. Tami Tushie's Toys (an IFPmn DocuClub Project) won the Audience Choice Award at the International Documentary Challenge (Hot Docs Toronto)and was featured at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, at TPT/PBS Minnesota and on The Documentary Channel. Solveig, a Minnesota favorite was featured at the Duluth/Superior Film Festival 2012 and written up in several local and national newspapers.

Today Kiersten is currently working on the Russell Means Documentary Film - release 2014, and a narrative film based in Santa Fe, NM.

For more information please go to www.mondeworldfilms.com

 
     
   
   
     
 
 
     
  Interviews  
     
     
  Bloomington B30 TV  
 

Novice Filmmaker

 
  http://youtu.be/9ZDaDAUJftU  
     
  Bloomington Crow  
  Millions will Watch  
  http://www.gotothecrow.com/2011/04/millions-will-watch/  
     
     
     
  Cape Coloured DNA Ancestry Project  
     
   
     
  In 2007, during pre production of Chace' documentary film, she was approached by a group of genetic genealogists to organize a genetic DNA project for the Cape Coloured communities in South Africa. This group of people has the highest level of mixed ancestry on the globe. African, European, East Asian and East Indian. Kiersten is the founder and administrator of this project and assists people across the globe in finding out more about their ancestral roots.
 
     
  Travels  
              
  Argentina | Brazil | Norway | France | Italy | Switzerland | England | Netherlands  
  South Africa | India | China | Caribbean | Mexico  
     
 
 

Clarke's Estate So. Africa
Fun with the youth
Mitchells Plains, So. Africa
HIV/Aid's Education Class
   
Judging at Club 3 Degrees
MInneapolis, MN
With Rev. Xapile (left)
   
Calvinia So. Africa
Domestic Abuse Seminar
Wynberg, So. Africa
Speaking at the Luxerama
   

  Los Angeles
With Jazz Great Jonathan Butler
   
On Stage with the Christian Explainers
Joseph Stone Auditorium, Cape Town
Stellenbosch, So. Africa
Hanging out with Doreen Hani
   
On our way to Cape Town
With 4Given Int'l
Guglethu / With Nomonde
J.L.Zwane Church
 

St. Cloud State Interview

B. Nance (BN) Reporter
Kiersten Chace (KC) Mondé World Films

BN: Tell us a little bit about the film.

KC: I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured is an historical documentary about the Cape Coloured community in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It spans 350 years of history and it focuses on the intergenerational struggle for identity.

BN: When did you first hear about the Coloured people of South Africa?

KC: In 1995, I was privileged to help produce the first US concert tour for the popular vocal group the Christian Explainers (from Cape Town). A young woman in the group said to me one night "Kiersten, I have a secret and you must not tell anyone that I have discussed this with you. Promise me." This concerned me at first and all sorts of thoughts were going through my head at the time. Then she continued to say.... "I am not a Black South African. In my country I am considered a Coloured". My first reaction, like most Americans, was the word 'Colored'. This is a very negative term in the U.S. However, I did not make judgment and listened with great interest for hours and hours about her upbringing and culture. It was at this moment when I began to research the history (of which there was little of) and eventually became actively involved in Coloured townships across South Africa.

BN: What motivated you to produce this film?

KC: In 2004, ten years post apartheid, I organized another ministry group to Cape Town. (this would have been my 7th group to SA since 1996) It was during this visit, that I could see for myself that very little had changed in the Coloured communities in Cape Town. A community quickly deteriorating physically and morally. This concerned me greatly and decided then that someone had to step up to the plate and educate those outside of South Africa so that when they visit, invest or donate to South Africa, that they will know that Coloured communities need help too. The most effective way to reach this goal was to produce a film and encourage colleges around the US and Canada to include the history of the Coloured people into their South Africa history curriculum.

BN: How did you choose the title of this film?

KC: I had two other titles in mind for the film. One night while screening the film to some top filmmakers, one of them said "I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured. I heard this stated several times in the film". This resonated with me as it was also the statement the young woman in 1995 said to me during the concert tour. It's pretty clear in the film, the cast members don't harbor ill feelings towards blacks, nor do they mind being called black, but society, government, and job opportunities still tend to define or see them as Coloured. As expressed in the film by cast members many feel they are not black enough in today's society and of course during Apartheid they were not white enough. I did approach key cast members with this new film title and they said that it definitely reflected the feeling of a lot of Capetonians. Not all Capetonians, but many feel this way.

BN: One of the highlights, yet most controversial, of the film is the DNA results segment towards the end of the film. Tell me about your decision to include this in the documentary.

KC: I had so many decisions to make. For example, making certain the film was not divisive, that it did not present typical stereotypes and that there was no American analysis. But, the biggest decision I had to make was the DNA Ancestry segment. First of all, it is important to note that when I first wrote the business plan for the film project, DNA was not even a thought. When Mr. Greenspan (Founder of Family Tree DNA) heard about the film and the lack of genealogical/ancestral records and lack of oral history, he genuinely wanted to help the community. He offered to donate 30 tests to the film. Before I agreed to this generous gift, I asked each and every cast member these two questions: 1. Would this project be of interest to you personally? 2. Would this be something that people in your community would be interested in. I was very sensitive to this idea of testing people and wanted this to be the cast members decision, not mine. To my surprise they were very interested in participating. Each participant signed release forms for both the film and for the DNA project. We further protected our cast members by only revealing ONE side of their ancestral lineage in the film. Not all cast members participated in the DNA project and was not required.

BN: What testing company was used for the DNA tests?

KC: Family Tree DNA is based in Houston, Texas and is the first and largest DNA Ancestry Database company in the world. It is the same company that National Geographic uses for their Genographic Project, and also Henry Louis Gates Jr (Oprah Winfrey's Genealogist).

BN: Is this a for-profit testing company?

KC: The testing labs are obviously for-profit as they must pay their scientists and maintain state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. However, the administrative side of the project including genetic genealogists who analyze/interpret the test results are all volunteer.

BN: Who paid for the tests?

KC: Family Tree DNA's CEO/Founder, Bennett Greenspan, donated 30 tests (approx. $3000usd) to our cast and crew to help the community learn of their ancestry.

BN: How do you feel about this technology?

KC: Personally I have mixed feelings about this technology. I think it is great that science is on this path of ancestral exploration. It is a safe and secure way to take a peek into one's ancient ancestry. But in the case of the Coloured people and their current situation, this technology could further divide a community if used for non-genealogical purposes. However, for those wanting a glimpse into their ancient ancestry and who love genealogy, it is a great technology.  While the DNA Ancestry site still exists I do not actively promote it. If someone really wants to know their DNA roots I will send them to our genetic DNA experts.

This film provides an excellent opportunity for classrooms to discuss the whole question of DNA, genealogy, ancestry and identity.

BN: Have you personally tested?

KC: Yes. My sister, a genetic genealogist, has successfully tested all four sides of our family. My mothers maternal and paternal line and my fathers maternal and paternal line. The results were very surprising and goes to prove that we are not who we think we are. I am 1/4 Scottish, 1/4 Ashkanazi Jew/Middle East 1/4 indigenous Native American roots, and I can't remember the other right off hand.

BN: How long did this film take to produce?

KC: From the moment I decided to take on this project until the release, it was approximately a year and a half. We only had nine days to shoot on location in Cape Town with 22 interviews and about 20 locations including Cape Town, Atlantis, Manenberg, Clarke's Estate, Camps Bay and other areas. Editing took about 6 months. We released the film in February 2009.

BN: How has the Coloured community received your film?

KC: Many Coloured South Africans and ex-pats have screened this film whether in a classroom or ordering it online. The majority are from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England. I get emails weekly from across the globe from young South Africans who thanked us for telling the history. I suppose if you read the testimonies you will get an idea of what South Africans think.

There are a few people here in Minnesota who have been critical of the film even though they have not seen the film. Mainly due to the title of the film, but many don't read the sub-title "Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope", make assumptions and won't see the film. However, I also know that many no longer desire to use the term Coloured and I totally respect this and understand where they are coming from. And I actually agree with this... it's time to stop labeling people. However, this does not mean that one should be ashamed of their heritage or roots. Everyone has the right to choose how they want to be identified. I never expected everyone to agree with the film, but I did expect people to 'talk' and 'dialog' about the issues.

BN: Why are there no counterpoints?

KC: Ten 10 years ago when meeting with community leaders in Kimberley South Africa and in Cape Town they stated that their opinions and their voice was looked down upon in government circles and at times laughed at and belittled. This is a common statement that I have heard for 14 years. So it was important to create a 'safe space' for our cast to share their stories and feelings without criticism. So if there was anything negative to be said about the community it would be the cast members themselves, not from someone else.  And they definitely express their shortcomings as a community in the film, but it came from them, not myself or anyone else. Also one of my goals was to make sure that there was no American interjection or analysis in the film. This was important to me. I truly tried to be as sensitive as possible.

BN: Why do you only focus on Cape Town?

KC: As a producer and director I had to consider my audience and how best to present this complex topic in a way that would not be overwhelming. You see, in America, very few people know that Coloured people exist in South Africa. They have only heard about the Black/White struggle. So given the fact that I have less than 80 minutes to present 350 years of history, I made the decision to focus on one area, the birthplace of the Coloured community, Cape Town, and allow the audience to research more about the subject. Maybe I will have to do another film?

 


www.cuttothechace.com
 
     
 
 
2009 © Chace Studios