kali van der merwe



South Africa 54 min

directed and produced by Kali van der Merwe




 • Best African Documentary - 15th African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival Milan, Italy,

March 2005


 • Best South African Documentary - 26th Durban International Film Festival, June 2005


 • Best Documentary - 5th Apollo Film Festival, Victoria West, September 2005





As she embraces motherhood, Capetonian singer/songwriter Ernestine Deane embarks on an enquiry into her heritage. In the 1960s under the infamous Group Areas Act, her Grandparents were evicted from their functioning farm in Constantia, and relocated to the urban suburb of Grassy Park. Integrally wedded to the land, her grandfather continues to yearn for the tract that remains fallow and unused in one of the most exclusive suburbs of Cape Town. Their return visit unleashes the suppressed emotion resulting from years of marginalisation and loss.

This touching and deeply personal journey investigates the past with the intention of celebrating a new community, new nation, and new family. By exploring her past and her present, it carries Ernestine from emotional remembrance to musical realisation and celebration, culminating in the song, Brown.



'A lavishing and dynamic, musical and visual composition, BROWN proves to be an intriguing document of self-discovery that confronts a moment in SA history in an attempt to understand the destiny of future generations.'


Durban International Film Festival Jury - Best South African Documentary



'For giving birth to highly accomplished , gentle portrait , that demonstrates the emotional intelligence of its director and of her film’s protagonist.'


Italy 15th African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival Milan - Best African Documentary



'For the skill with which the film weaves music, verse and image, for it's realisation of a simple story told in an extraordinarily lyrical fashion, for it's rendering of universal characters battling to right the wrongs of the past, without resorting to didactics while setting up and resolving tensions, we decided that the Best Documentary film at the 5 th Apollo Film Festival goes to ............. "Brown".'


Victoria West Apollo Film Festival - Best Documentary

Screening History


November 2004 - Cape Town World Cinema International Film Festival


February 2005 - Design Indaba, Cape Town


March 7th 2005 - screened on SABC 1 television, South Africa


March 2005 - 15th African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival Milan, Italy - won first prize in the African Documentary section of the Film Festival.


April 2005 - Inaugural Southern African Film Festival - Sydney Australia


June 2005 - 26th Durban International Film Festival - Won best South African Documentary


July 2005 - 8th Zanzibar International Film Festival - Screened at Independent Armchair Theatre as part of a Human Rights Conference


August 2005 - Screened on National Women's Day at the WOW festival at the Baxter Theatre and at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg - Screened at the Zula Bar in Long Street Cape Town for a young audience.


September 2005 - Ismailia International Film Festival, Egypt


September 2005 - Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West, won best documentary


October 2005 - Memory project Civic Centre Cape Town


November 2005 - Screened at the Labia Cinema in conjunction with a live concert of Ernie singing


February 2006 - Real Life on Film, Melbourne Australia


March 2007 - Fribourg International Film Festival Switzerland


Ernie, to this present day, continues to screen Brown accompanied with awareness raising talks. Contact her should you wish to know more.

 Read article: Where credit is due by Brian Paseka Letlhabane

 Read article: Forced removals from Constantia revived in film by Julia Landau

 Read article: Women Filmmakers ROOTZ magazine by Akiedah Mohamed

This documentary was funded by:



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