The Dream That Refused Me

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New futuristic aesthetics of the African diaspora. Shown through poetry, movement, internet iconography and dazzling CGI

Through her bold and colourful visuals, filmmaker Jabu Nadia Newman captures 'alternative' stories unique to South African youth culture, that are relevant to the here and now. Jabu's film The Dream That Refused Me, produced by Romance and commissioned by NOWNESS, explores new aesthetics of the African diaspora.

In the film Jabu likes to disrupt typical traditional framing of black culture and instead infuse it with a little satirical futurism - afrofuturism. This traditional meets future theme in The Dream That Refused Me is built from a poem-narrative written by Xhosa poet Siyabonga Jim. And it strings together a multitude of mediums and visuals: internet iconography, dance, CGI narratives, ancestral spectres (ghosts) and incandescent landscapes created by Zas Ieluhee.

Case in point is the Ethnic-ify app scene that takes cultural appropriation to its satirical height where an overly enthusiastic vlogger ‘Hello Nice’, virtually tries on different “tribal” adornments. The intention was to challenge the act of amalgamating “African aesthetics”. Too many meanings, markers and signifiers of different African cultures get confused or mashed together in the media”.

This film is a coded, ever changing, creative expression, where those who have inherited the key through birth, future or education and decipher the abundance of connotations.

Nadia Newman 'Through the internet ideas are constantly being shared and representations of blackness are constantly evolving as well as being appropriated. The themes of this film are collaboration, translation and interpretation... Myself, the cast, the cine (Deon van Zyl), art director (Wendy Fredriksson) and costume designer (Unathi Mkonto) each had their own interpretation of the Xhosa poem by the narrator Siyabonga Jim, which makes every single colour, shot, or look another layer in representing the spoken poem. In this way, I wanted to take something as ancient and intrinsically African as storytelling to create a modern and contemporary film.

This film was the most collaborative piece I have ever worked and I owe it all to the cast and crew. A true labour of love for everyone involved and I am so excited that is is now out in the world.'

Read more from the filmmaker on Nowness


Director: Jabu Nadia Newman (@jabunewman)
Collage Artwork: Zas Ieluhee (@ieluhee)
Poet: Siyabonga Jim (@siabonga72 )
Dancers: Lolwethu Sdumo, Mthetheleli Dlakavu, Amanda Guma (@ashka_amanda), Chumande
Ngqakotye, Yolanda Ntanyana (@pearlntanyana) Indoni Dance, Arts and Leadership Academy
CGI Model: Kim Zulu (@kimzulu_) by Emoji Digital (
Hello Nice Vlogger: Natalie Paneng (@nataliepaneng_)

Executive Producer: Rozanne Rocha-Gray (@r.o.z.a.n.n.e)
Producer: Didi Exelby (@didi_xlb)
Director of Photography: Deon van Zyl (@deonvnzl)
Art Direction: Wendy Fredriksson (@wendingmachine)
Styling and Costume Design: Unathi Mkonto (@unathimkonto)
Beauty Artist: Marchay Linderoth (@marchay_linderoth)
Hair: Kelvin Takudzwa (@kelvintakudzwa6)

Edit: Paul Speirs (@pwspeirs) and Thabo Nhlapo (@thabo._n) at New Creation Collective

Post Production: Monstrum
Online Grade and VFX by Rusty Ruthven (@rustyruthven)
Blogger Interface VFX and 3D Artwork: Nick Ellis-Brown (@smart_slumz)
VFX Production: Iconic Agency (
iPhone Footage: Francesco Mbele (@franadilla)
Sound Post Production Facility: Welcome Park Studio (@welcomeparkstudio)
Location Sound Recordist + Final Mix: Luis Trujillo (@luisluis93)
Foley Artist: Quanita Allie
Music Composer: Likhona Camane (@seventhgaze)
First AD: Rozanne Rocha-Gray (@r.o.z.a.n.n.e)
Focus Puller: Mark van Zyl (@markvanzz)
2nd Assistant Camera: Alex Ortscheit (@alex_orscheit)
DIT: Mike Mtsinje
Camera Trainee: Tafadswa Pasi
Props Master: Gerald Abraham
Art Assistant: Eddie Kawonga
Gaffer: Bernie De Wet
Best Boy: Nathan Erasmus
Spark: Brian Thompson
Lighting Assistant: Miles Ritchie (@milesritch)
Key Grip: Judas Banda
Grip: Vuyani Nkomo
Wardrobe Assistant: Sarah Hugo Hamman (@sarah_hugo_hamman)
Co-Executive Producer: Leanne Sanders (@lil_lea_)
Production Assistants: Elmaree Bohm (@elm_streeet), Kyle Hyde, Jonathan Baju
Unit Production Manager: Isaac Farm at Discovery Film Location and Unit Management
Medic: Colin Tucker
Security: Dynamic Events
Catering and Craft: Candid Catering
The Producers wish to thank:
Imran Hamdulay (@imranhamdulay)
Iconic Agency (
Sbonakaliso Ndaba
Discovery Unit and Locations
Lourensford Wine Estate (@lourensford)

Medic 8
Viviers (
Amanda Laird Cherry (@alc_woman)