Rough Aunties Review

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Protectors and champions of the abused children of Durban, South Africa, the Rough Aunties are the subject of this documentary of one charity's role within a broken system.


Nelson Mandela once said that a society’s soul is revealed by the way it treats its children. In which case, Longinotto’s documentary suggests South Africa is a very troubled place. It’s almost impossible to watch the trepidation experienced by the rape victims attending Branfield’s Durban refuge. But the usually discreet Longinotto adds to the discomfort by allowing her camera to intrude upon fearful teens struggling to confide their awful secrets. Moreover, she seems uncertain whether to focus on the selfless staff or their pitiful charges, resulting in her failing to place the charity in a wider socio-legal context and only hinting at the problem she seeks to highlight.

Longinotto misses the mark in a doc that only scratches the surface of South Africa's broader problems.