Wine has been made in the Western Cape region of South Africa for over 300 years. At first, slaves and indigenous Khoisan worked the vineyards owned by white European settlers. Classified as "Coloureds," the descendants of these laborers have continued to work these vineyards for generations. Until recently, they could not own the houses they lived in, and were paid for their labor partly in alcohol. This instituted form of abuse - called the dop system - was designed by wine farm owners to encourage alcohol dependency in their workers so that they would not leave the farm to look for work elsewhere.
Almost a decade has now passed since the end of Apartheid in South Africa. The demands of economic globalization and pressure from the new South African government for evidence of reform have led the wine industry to look for new ways of organizing labor on the wine farms. This documentary film focuses on two wine farms where "empowerment" projects have recently been started in response to these calls for change. The wine farm workers receive part of the profits from the sale of "empowerment" brand wine Winds of Change. They have used this money to buy their own houses and shares in the wine farm business. On the surface, these "empowerment" projects seem to be a radical departure from the abusive, paternalistic labor relationship between farm owners and workers that has existed for so long. But the legacy of centuries of abuse cannot be eradicated overnight.
This film is an exploration of what life is like - and how life has or hasn't changed - for several workers who live and work on these wine farms in the midst of a transition. A mix of observational footage and personal testimonies, the film tells an optimistic - but realistic - story about life and change in the new South Africa. Filmmaker: Ceridwen Dovey
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