New political economies of film distribution for South Africa's townships? A critical survey of the ReaGilè concept

Nyasha Mboti, Keyan Tomaselli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


ReaGilès are pre-fabricated, self-contained, education and entertainment complexes situated on 400m2 sites at local schools or public open spaces consisting of a 60-seat cinema, 30-seat computer and Internet facility, community care and policing centre. These complexes are intended to service historically underserviced peri-urban black dormitory townships of South Africa and to help create jobs, especially amongst the youth, women and the disabled. The ReaGilè concept, on roll-out, has the potential to revolutionise exhibition and distribution in local film industries in ways mirroring the ground-breaking Nollywood straight-to-DVD model. The article discusses the potential of the ReaGilè concept to offer solutions to the twin crises of 1) representation stemming from existing film distribution networks that limit micro-budget filmmakers, and 2) of government departments and local municipalities' tendency towards dividing practices that objectivise the subject through frustrating development via delays, paperwork, never-ending meetings, fees, endless formalities and legalities, and red tape. The authors posit that ReaGilè has the potential to creatively disrupt and redesign formal distribution models and to fracture the narrow modernisation paradigm they deploy, replacing them with a responsive communication re/ordering and flexible distribution that restore subjectivity to the disenfranchised South African subject (the filmmaker and audience from the township).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-643
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Arts
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015


  • Film distribution
  • Path dependency
  • Reagilè
  • South African townships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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