South African independent filmmaker, Aryan Kaganof is a visual artist, novelist and poet, who explores provocative and politically charged subject matter. Born in 1964 as Ian Kerkhof, he left South Africa for the Netherlands at nineteen to avoid conscription into the South African army during Apartheid. Before enrolling in the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in 1990, he worked for the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement, while also writing for international publications and programming jazz for pirate radio stations. He won a Golden Calf (Best Feature) for Kyodi Makes the Big Time, a self-produced 16mm production shot in 14 days while still a second-year student. In 1996 he pioneered the use of digital video as a feature film medium with the transfer to 35mm of Naar De Klote! (Wasted!) and went on to direct the first Japanese film utilizing this process (Tokyo Elegy, 1999).
In March 2000, following Kaganof’s return to South Africa, a retrospective of his films was held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. His 2002 film Western 4.33, which tells the story of the German concentration camps on Shark Island off the coast of Luderitz, Namibia, was screened at the 2004 Berlinale and won awards for Best Video Made in Africa at the 12th Milan African Film Festival, and Best Documentary Made in Africa at the Reunion Africa and Islands Film Festival. In 2005, he shot the world’s first feature film made with a mobile phone camera (SMS Sugarman) and was a Visiting Professor at K3 Malmo University, Sweden following the film’s success there. He has had solo exhibitions in Cape Town’s Association for Visual Arts (AVA) and in Durban at the NSA Gallery, where he was also artist in residence.
Kaganof has worked as an editor with many South African film directors including Akin Omotoso (Jesus and the Giant, which Kaganof also scripted) Ntshavheni wa Luruli (Elelwani) (Imagine) and Craig Matthew (Welcome Nelson, a documentary about the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, screened by eTV in 2010).
His on-going music research project the African Noise Foundation performed as part of the Badilisha Poetry Festival at Spier in December 2009 features Zim Ngqawana, Mantombi Matotiyana and the Kalahari Surfers. In November 2010, he collaborated with Cape Town filmmaker Dylan Valley on The Uprising of Hangberg, a documentary exposing human rights violations in Hout Bay (a Cape Town suburb) by the Metro police force. Recently a retrospective film festival of his work, AK47, organized by DOMUS was held in Stellenbosch. In November, 2013 he screened An Inconsolable Memory, a long form documentary about the Eoan Group Book Project, at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.