Jennifer Abbott’s first docu feature “Tide Marks” has the earnest undergraduate tenor of someone shocked at what her research has turned up — never mind that there already exist myriad films about apartheid’s history and aftermath, probably all more authoritative than this one. Given limited number of interviewees, gee-whiz recitation of info that will be familiar to many, and weak organization, vid effort looks best suited for limited classroom exposure.
While interning at Human Rights Media Center in 2002, helmer focuses on four Cape Town residents who suffered imprisonment, torture or both during South Africa’s long apartheid era. One is English-born Shirley Gunn, who now runs the HRMC and was an underground freedom fighter for several years. Zulu activist Maureen Mazibuko still bears scars and pain from abuse she endured under arrest. Ability of Brian Mphahlele and Colin de Souza to improve their marginal living circumstances remain seriously hobbled as a consequence of physical/psychological torturing. These testimonies are powerful, ditto statistics suggesting scant economic progress for the (mostly black) poor since apartheid’s end. But pic meanders from one idea to another with little attention to structure; tech aspects are sometimes poor.