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    African mirror: the life and times of the South African newsreel from 1910 to 1948

    Sandon, Emma (2013) African mirror: the life and times of the South African newsreel from 1910 to 1948. Journal of Southern African Studies 39 (3), pp. 661-680. ISSN 0305-7070.

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    African Mirror, the South African-produced and world's longest running commercial newsreel, was a regular item in cinema programmes and on other exhibition circuits in South Africa from its inception in 1913. The importance of cinema newsreel has been recognised for its role as propaganda during wartime and its presence in everyday life, reaching wide audiences with representations of national and public events. The digitisation of Movietone, Pathé and other well-known newsreels has enabled scholars to access archive material and has generated detailed histories of newsreels' impact in the public realm. This article extends this analysis to African Mirror. The archive of the South African newsreel constitutes a substantial body of film, produced weekly over 70 years. Its operations extended across southern and eastern Africa, as well as North Africa during the Second World War. It was screened on cinema circuits to mainly white, but also Indian and ‘coloured’ South African audiences, the latter a category which incorporated some African audiences, and its footage was supplied to newsreels such as Pathé. This article highlights the similarity of African Mirror to other newsreels and argues that it played an important role in promoting ‘South Africanism’ in the first decades of Union. Providing an overview of its coverage of South African events, it details the conditions of production, distribution and exhibition of African Mirror, and describes how it became established as part of the cinema-going experience in South Africa between 1913 and 1948.


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