Jabu Nadia Newman
Jabu Nadia Newman is a genre-defying director based in Capetown who takes inspiration from traditional forms of African storytelling to create contemporary, colorful, comedic and visually impactful films exploring ideas around sexuality, gender, race, class and politics. From a voguing drag racer gang shot cinematically at golden hour (Adidas – Open Forum) to a transition-fabulous film showing the transformative power of self-made heroes (Standard Bank – 10pm), Jabu dials into authentic narratives and uplifts them with stylistically bold and urgent creative choices.
As a university student Jabu wrote and directed The Foxy Five – a blaxploitation parody web series that celebrates intersectional feminism through the antics of a fictional girl gang – as a response to the Fees Must Fall education protests and a way to champion unheard voices in the cultural conversation. Her NOWNESS, BFI and British Council commission The Dream That Refused Me was a watershed moment in Newman’s career. Consisting of four aesthetically distinct chapters that tie together myths, attitudes, and rituals from across Africa – from a satirical Ethnicify App that tackles cultural appropriation in the influencersphere to a sincere dance film that explores the complexities of modern domesticity – the film is epic, far reaching, funny, nuanced and undefinable, earning Newman a Young Director Award (YDA) in 2021.
Newman’s honest narratives encourage the characters in her films to be active participants in the storytelling, to tell their own stories, in their own way. She brings this approach seamlessly to her commercial clients (Adidas, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Nando’s, Lone River to name a few), earning her a handful of Ciclope Africa awards among other accolades. Jabu is inspired to bring her conscious aesthetic to commercial filmmaking, championing equal representation both in front of and behind the camera.