Brenda Fassie, Not a Bad Girl 1993
Christopher Austin / South Africa, UK / 75 mins / English / Rating 15
Brenda Fassie was the most popular singer in the history of South African music. Her sales eclipsing local and international artists. This intimate documentary shows her at home, on stage, and her return to her township roots on one of her regular visits to her mother. At one point, Fassie poignantly remarks, “I’m trying to live because I’m going to die one day. You only live once, and you’re not coming back.”
South Africa’s late, great diva Brenda Fassie is captured at the height of her powers, fame and wealth here, a documentary that is all the more affecting for her subsequent tragic death.
About the Director
Austin was born in Cape Town and left the country at twenty-three after a short career as a journalist, photographer and filmmaker. His first film for British television was Rhythm of Resistance, for LWT’s new arts programme, shot in South Africa in 1978.
He later returned to South Africa to secretly shoot four documentaries with cameraman and editor Peter Chappell, assisted by journalist Nomavenda Mathiane. South Africa Belongs to Us attracted the most attention, and was credited with triggering the sanctions campaign in Germany. The apartheid regime caught up with him, cancelled his passport and banned him from returning for over a decade.
Later, he made The House of Hunger in Zimbabwe, based on Dambudzo’s Marechera’s novel, and Harare became a second home through the 80s and 90s. Brenda Fassie, Not A Bad Girl was his first film back in a liberated South Africa. Austin now divides his time between Cape Town and London.