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Africa Shafted: under one roof

An award winning, timeless, universal documentary filmed entirely in the lifts of Africa's tallest apartment, Ponte Towers, downtown Johannesburg, South Africa: 8 lifts, 400 flats & 4400 people. A must see for anyone interested in Africa and our common humanity. 

Produced and directed by Ingrid Martens 

This film is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the South Africa xenophobic attacks in 2008 and Jackson Kaujeua and Timothy Boyd who passed away in 2010.

The Screenings and News

5 June 2016

AfriDocs Screens Africa Shafted


4 June 2016

Tel Aviv Exhibition: South of the Sahara: Accelerated Urbanism in Africa

 Sub-Saharan Africa—a multitude of nations, cultures and geographic expanses—is gripped nowadays between preserving communal traditions and accelerated economic liberalism. A massive Chinese presence is translated into developing infrastructures and new cities; however, most "African urbanism" is manifested in survivalist solutions for informal towns. The exhibition presents projects by architects, cinematographers and artists from Africa, Europe and Asia, representing the dramatic


change processes of the public sphere in this region. ​


South of the Sahara: Accelerated Urbanism in Africa

OPENING DATE: Thursday 17 March 2016

CLOSING DATE: Saturday 27 August 2016

LOCATION: The Agnes and Beny Steinmetz Wing for Architecture and Design, Galleries 1 & 2 Herta and Paul Amir Building

CURATOR: Meira Yagid-Haimovici


"I am trying to find words to describe my deep emotions concerning this touching work [Africa Shafted]. It swept me totally and I believe it is an outstanding sensitive document." Meira Yagid, Senior Curator of Design and Architecture, Tel Aviv Museum of Art


"Thank you for making such a wonderful work [Africa Shafted]. It is so Humanistic, I was deeply touched." Hamas Yossifon, Design and Architecture Department, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art


3 June 2016

Béton Exhibition in Vienna, Austria

We truly think your film “Africa Shafted. Under One Roof” illustrates the social perspectives of living in a landmark like Ponte in a poignant way. It would be a great contribution to our exhibition since it depicts a portrait of a community that consist of migrants from all corners of Africa that share not only the same residence but the same experience of being a foreigner. It reflects on the history of South Africa and illustrates how the purpose and the meaning of a landmark can shift over time. It would be an honor to include your film “Africa Shafted. Under One Roof” in the context of “Baton”.

Juliane Bischoff, Kunsthalle Wien


Kunsthalle Wien exhibition entitled “Béton” deals with modernist architecture and the social implications embodied in housing projects beginning from the 1950s. 


In the 1950s and 60s, concrete was regarded as the epitome of modernism. An individual architectural style based on concrete established itself, so-called brutalism (originating from the French word for exposed concrete: béton brut). Brutalist architecture not only distinguishes itself through an expressive application of concrete but through a distinct social element; brutalist architecture stands for social housing, municipal educational establishments, cultural centers, and universities. Aiming to change society, brutalist architecture virtually gave shape to utopia. Today, many of the buildings built at the time are threatened with demolition; they are considered to have failed their purpose. In light of a modernism stained by dystopia, contemporary art once again carve out its original ideas, its euphoria, but also its failure. Not out of a nostalgic longing but for the sake of remembering that architecture was once more than enclosed space, and concrete was not merely a building material but was historically and ideologically charged.


The exhibition is curated by Vanessa Joan Müller and Nicolaus Schafhausen and will be on view from June 25 to October 16, 2016 at Kunsthalle Wien. Taking social housing projects as a point of departure, the exhibition will look at past architecture’s ambitions to change society for the better. Brutalism, an architectural style based on concrete, virtually gave birth to concrete forms of utopia, however many post-war buildings typical of this architecture are now under threat: by both demolition and slanderous remarks upon their shortcomings. Artists take up these concerns, throwing light on the historical and ideological underpinnings of this highly charged matter. The exhibition will feature works of more than 20 international artists, among others Heba Amin, Tom Burr, Cyprien Gaillard, Isa Genzken, Liam Gillick, Annette Kelm, David Maljkovic, Sofie Thorsen and Tobias Zielony.


29 May 2016

SABC Screens Africa Shafted

TV Schedule for SABC2

21:00 Africa Shafted: Under One Roof


3 May 2016

Duke University

Film screening of the award winning documentary, Africa Shafted (followed by a Skype Q&A with filmmaker Ingrid Martens in South Africa)


Series Name: Concilium on Southern Africa¿s 2016 Spring Film Series

Presenter: Filmmaker, Ingrid Martens

Sponsor: co-hosted by the Duke University Concilium on Southern Africa and the Africa Conversations Club


The film raises questions around pan-African unity, Ubuntu and hospitality, gendered storytelling, the absence of pro-poor governance, normalized structural violence, perseverance, work-ethic, the vulnerability of and care for children. 


1 February 2016

The RapidLion Film Practitioner Series

The South African International Film Festival, also known as RapidLion, creates an online series on Film Practitioners. They interview Ingrid Martens for Episode 8.


22 January 2016

The world is so much clearer in close-up, Musa Gwebani, RapidLion

Ingrid Martens has a beautiful home in the trendy Johannesburg suburb   of Melville. I am struck by the architectural design of her living quarters. Together with the guesthouse, her house forms what appears to be a circular wrap around a garden with a swimming pool at the center. Stepping out of any of the doors to the structures leads you directly to the garden and pool. She jokingly tells me that the guesthouse funds her expensive hobby of filmmaking.


Ingrid has straight, shoulder length, light brown hair. She has inviting eyes. She giggles often, and has a carefree, happy laugh. But I sense that she is a perfectionist. The artwork on her walls is carefully chosen to tell you precisely where she has been through her travels, which are extensive, making her a very worldly person indeed. It seems every piece of artwork I compliment was purchased on a particular trip for a specific reason, and has a story behind it.


She makes me coffee and we sit by the poolside to chat. Ingrid was born and raised in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. She studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where she obtained her Masters degree in Culture and Media Studies.


While completing her Masters degree, she documented the beginning of Regional Television in South Africa. It was during this process that she trained with various journalists, found her passion for telling stories and evolved her own concept of how to do it: “I shy away from wide angle story telling, from recreating my own perceptions. I would like to think I zoom in on people’s lives and find nuance. In so doing, I allow the story to tell itself. I choose the close up”, says Ingrid.


Soon after completing her Masters degree, she worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), at a time when South Africa’s democracy was taking shape. “I recall quite vividly working on a story in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal in 1994. KwaZulu-Natal was a warzone at the time, people would stop us in the road and say: ‘Help, they’re killing us’. In the midst of that violence you could still see strength. The Gogos [elderly women] of those villages kept everything together. They were a source of strength. In all that violence, in all that death, they united and mourned together and relied on each other for support. Undoubtedly there was chaos, but I saw the spirit of Ubuntu in a way I had never experienced in my own life”, says Ingrid. She tells the story with pensiveness, almost reliving it. I can tell she is a person of silver linings. She endeavors to find hope in everything.


Not long after this, Ingrid was chosen for the International Professional Programme for Journalists at CNN in Atlanta, which was launched by CNN founder, Ted Turner, in 1988. No more than 900 journalists from 123 countries and 207 news organisations had been a part of this programme since inception at the time. Ingrid was selected for this programme from thousands of hopefuls from all over the world after she won a CNN African Heal Award for a story on virginity testing.


When she returned from America, Camerapix, one of Africa’s most awarded production houses, approached her to take up the position of Executive Producer at its first ever South African office. “When I worked at Camerapix, I began to tell stories that matter. It also allowed me to travel throughout Africa and, with each place I went to, I fell in love with this continent”. At Camerapix, Ingrid produced and assisted in the production of news and features from countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Angola.


Come 2003, and now a fully seasoned producer in her own right, Ingrid established I’M Original Productions, her own company. She says that I’M Original Productions is dedicated to creating and delivering authentic collaborations, content and strategies. It was under I’M Original Productions that she made Africa Shafted Under One Roof, a feature documentary that was filmed in Ponte Towers, Africa’s tallest residential building, situated in the infamous suburb of Hillbrow that neighbours the Johannesburg city centre, with 54 floors that are home to some 4 400 Africans.


Funding the entire project herself, Ingrid began filming in 2006. When the Xenophobic violence took place in 2008, two years after she began filming, and quite a number of foreign Africans were attacked around South Africa, she was kicked out of Ponte Towers, together with the residents. Africa Shafted Under One Roof gives an honest glimpse of the tragic reality of xenophobia through the eyes of people from every corner of Africa living under one roof. It reveals the daily struggles of Africans from the rest of the continent living in South Africa today.


Undoubtedly, this is Ingrid’s proudest film work. “I rode the lift at Ponte Towers for two and a half years and created a relationship with the residents. They allowed me into their lives. We spoke of their home countries, their jobs and falling in love. In the film I look at the residents one on one, they are not just poor, they are people”, says Ingrid.


She makes references to the film often. It is clear that it changed her life. “It was my travels through the continent that gave me this insight and it was passionately reinforced in the lifts of Ponte. Ponte revealed parts of myself to me. It exposed me to our common humanity. In that lift, it became clearer to me that we are all just people. We all know joy, we all know suffering, and we all know love”, she says.


In 2012 Africa Shafted Under One Roof won the jury award for the Most Original Treatment of Cinema at the Planeta Film Festival in Mexico. It has been screened at the New York African Film Festival, the Africa in Motion in Edinburgh Film Festival, the African World Documentary Festival, the Durban International Film Festival and the Tri-Continental Film Festival and many others.


I left Ingrid’s home richer. She has a profound appreciation and love for this continent and its people. She is determined to show off its beauty, to tell its story using the close-up shot as opposed to the wide angle one. She wants to make films that connect people. Her desire is for all of us to see ourselves in others. Her films are a close up on the human condition. As I do with all interviewees, I ask Ingrid how she would like me to write about her. She replies, without hesitation “With dignity. Write about me with dignity”.

I trust I have.


7 August 2015

Life Lessons from the Women of TEDxJohannesburg - Ingrid Martens

August is Women’s Month in South Africa. To celebrate, we’re conducting long-form interviews with 20 women who have spoken at TEDxJohannesburg. Inspired by Huffington Post’s Sophia project, we’re asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life.


In her TEDxJohannesburg 2014 talk, Ingrid Martens skilfully uses a series of video clips to make the point that we all have the power to lift ourselves if we zoom into the close-ups and step over the wide angles that divide us.


What is a recent realisation you have had about living a more rewarding/fulfilling life?

Always focus on creatively building towards being able to only do the work you love to do. Then have the courage to let go all of those spaces and opportunities that no longer match what you value. After that, amazing things start to happen.


Tell us something about an area of your expertise that took you years to learn.

As someone that gets completely absorbed, lost and then found, in what I do, each project takes me on a journey and beckons me to become an ‘expert’ in a particular area. Having done this for some time, and in so many areas of media content, strategy and training, it gets more and more rewarding. I believe it is the frameworks and approaches you develop that allows you to keep adding new layers of depth, meaning and relevance to what you love doing.


What do you feel is the most helpful thing your parents did for you that many parents don’t do?

My mom had no ‘big’ expectations of my brother and I. So for example, when we went on to be the first in our family to attain university degrees, like all our milestones, she was surprised and celebrated our achievements.


It is an great life philosophy, away from all the serious endless stress that is placed on young people. Great things can happen without all that pressure.


Tell us about a book (or books) that had a significant impact on you.

“Business Model Generation” that was written by 470 people from 45 countries. Invaluable content and tools, as well as a book that delivers the innovation and the collaboration it is sharing.

What is something small or seemingly insignificant that contributes greatly to your happiness?

Wake up and call a travel agent, and say “who can get me to an island tomorrow morning?”. Or if the budget is limited, just jump into your car and drive for a few days with no destination. Solo travel is an incredible way to reconnect with yourself, the beauty around you and the immense opportunities.


Tell us about a memorable gift you’ve given or received.

The most recent one was “The Mindfulness Colouring Book”. Yes, a coloring book for adults. What fun and meditative.


What is a regret you have that others could learn from?

I do not believe in regrets. However, when I started my career there was no such thing, where I worked, as having a mentor. I believe that we should all offer to be a mentor to at least one young person at the start of their careers.

With the right guidance, support and longer term insights it will not only enrich their journey but also potentially rocket their professional lives.


Tell us about a travel experience or destination that you would recommend to others.


So many … If you ever have the opportunity, attend a New Year’s festival in Togo or Benin and find out, from the stone found in the forest, what the year holds. Or visit, until recently the car-less island, my favourite, La Digue in Seychelles and sit on the shores and lap up the wonders. Or if it is local, drive through the sacred rolling hills of the Drakensberg or the Transkei.


What habits/routines do you keep that are especially unique or beneficial?

A weekly me-time ritual where I reconnect with myself, it is always a new invention, but it allows me to take a step back so I can happily take the next step forward.


What apps (or other technologies) have the greatest impact on your happiness/personal fulfillment?

As a creative both in my professional and personal, number one is my mac, and then my favourite apps are Prezi, Final Cut Pro, Wunderlist, Day One, iBooks and many meditative apps.


How would you have handled your own education differently?

I have loved my lifelong educational journey and would do it all over again. What I can share is just how important it is to keep finding new things to learn, forever. I am always on the look out for these new opportunities, just recently I was selected to be on the first group of African Media Fellows, what a new and exciting learning curve. The most important part is to dig in and then, even more importantly, to integrate.


What do you know now about living a satisfying life that you didn’t know when you were twenty?

Always trust in your instincts and that you are in exactly the right place, at the right time.


What do you think about when you think about death?

It is a tough journey to loose those you love. In terms of my own death, few books could explain in better thann a travel guide called “The World’s Most Dangerous Places”. It explains, in a very funny way, how statistically we are more likely to die on a road near our homes than in a war zone. So I believe at our best we should never be limited by our fear of anything, including our own death. Of course, it is easier said than lived.



Watch Ingrid Marten’s TEDxJohannesburg talk: There’s a wide angle and a close-up to every story


Visit for more.


22 May 2015

Alliance Française, Johannesburg

on World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue

23 April 2015

Olive Tree Film Club, Alex 

Banele P. Mtebele is an inspiring visionary bringing films that matter to his community in Alexandra Township & weekly film classes to inspired youth. It was such an honour to be invited to screen Africa Shafted at Olive Tree Theatre. Keep shinning Banele, you are a star!


See his latest project

Creative director of Kala/Mine Productions, Banele P. Mtebele. “I Beg to differ” is a digital documentary that profiles extraordinary African creatives who are influential, inspirational, determined & persevere to live their dreams despite all the odds against them.


bANele peACEemaker mtebele
Banele I found the perfect word in your name: An Ace


28 March 2015

Ernst & Young, NextGen Workshop

With Mandy Pakkiri

Ingrid Martens screens Africa Shafted at the inspirational Next Generation Programme and gives away 3 DVD's to the 3 best answers as to how our young leaders of tomorrow will positively use the film in their communitie's to create dialogue about our differences and our commonalities.


About the Programme

The programme, managed by EY CSR Lead, Mandy Pakkiri, gives specially selected girls access to information, skills development and the right opportunities. The 2013 class of girls were selected from 11 Next Gen Schools from around the country, based on academic excellence, potential, motivation and determination to succeed. Girls also underwent psychometric assessment as part of the selection process, the results of which helped EY gain a better profile of the girls, their aptitude and career aspirations.


The Next Gen schools in both provinces were selected based on recommendations from the Department of Education, from which certain schools were shortlisted based on interest, level of engagement and support of the programme, academic performance and management of the school.


The Next Gen programme was launched in 2012 and the first matric class graduated with 80 percent gaining university level passes. Eight girls are currently in first year university at national and private universities. Two Next Gen girls, Lehlabile Dhavana and Nomthandazo Khanyi, were awarded full scholarships to the prestigious African Leadership Academy.


27 February 2015

Reel Fridays

First South African film under the stars


19 February 2015



Screening of AFRICA SHAFTED; an award winning documentary, an Ingrid Martens film.


Date: 19 February.

Time: 18:30 - 19:00.

Venue: FADA Amphitheater.


Ingrid Martens, producer, director and editor of the film will give an introduction to the screening.

Producer, director, camera, editor & web designer: Ingrid Martens

Production manager: Bronwyn Nesbitt

Assistant director: Mandla Mlambo

On-line editor: Stephen Abbott

Final mix: Brett Barnes/EarCandy

Editorial advisors: Angie Kapelianis & Catherine Whitfield1st 

Web designer: Chevon Erasmus Porter & Ingrid Martens



If South Africa is the economic hub of the continent, then Johannesburg is it’s bank vault;  a magnet therefore, of migrants from all corners of the continent, searching for a better life – a slice of the “African dream”.  And planted in the heart of downtown Joburg, a majestic blip on it’s turbulent landscape, The Ponte -  iconic, rotund, infamous, feared by most Jo’burgers  – Africa’s tallest apartment building, a towering 54 floors, housing 4,400 men, women and children.  Some South African, but many from across Africa’s vast borders, the Ponte is Little Africa (image above).


“Long since a film has touched me this much.” Johannes Grober, Africa in Motion in Scotland


Shot painstakingly over five years, until the expulsion of tenants for more lucrative property investment, and a month shy of South Africa’s xenophobic attacks, AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF harmoniously, humorously and lyrically, takes the viewer from the beyond the windows of a concrete tower, revealing the humanity behind this often misunderstood and reviled community.


Simple in its concept, AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF is shot entirely within the confines of a lift.  The lens becomes a confessional or simply a witness to snippets of people’s lives, on their micro journeys to and from their homes. Limited by the time a person enters and leaves the lift, time itself becomes a vacuum.   What people reveal to the camera in moments, is often surprising, poignant, witty and sometimes shocking. Conversations with each other, or simply watching the watcher, are completely natural. Nothing is set up. Nothing is forced. 


“My hands down favorite doc in the festival this year.”  Hellura Lyle, New York Doc Watchers


Over months, some develop a relationship with the camera, enjoying the funnel of the camera as a listener. Others remain still – the subtlety of body language is enough to understand joy, or pain, that may never be revealed.  The lift allows a diverse number of people to enter the lives of the viewer, from all over the continent, under one space. It also forces for unique interaction and conversation to take place between people from different countries.  As their stories unfold, some people’s prejudices naturally disappear as they talk to each other within the space of this communal, claustrophobic vehicle. 


This reinforces the universal message, that through dialogue and understanding, respect starts to take root. The viewer ultimately, becomes an active participant rather than a passive observer. They are forced to invade the space of people, and at times, uncomfortably so, with the vulnerability, resilience and strength of each individual that appears in front of the camera.  Storytelling doesn’t get much more up close and in-your-face than this.  


“A truly humane and entertaining look at our continent personified by its complex and beautiful people."  Akin Omotoso, SA & Nigerian filmmaker 


Reflecting the mood and vibe of the continent, the film is supported throughout with rich tapestry of music that has and continues to be, the thriving heartbeat of Africa’s soul.   Harnessing both famous and lesser-known artists from all over, including the voices of refugees and migrant workers themselves, this rhythm complements beautifully the tempo of what is being watched. The music completes the film and fulfills its intention compellingly  - a film not of containment but ultimately, one of liberation.


AFRICA SHAFTED: UNDER ONE ROOF is a film for now. By capturing the views and opinions of ordinary Africans who have been seen as scary, undeserving, criminal, drug sellers by so may in post-apartheid South Africa. This unique experience allows for a deeper, and more comparative understanding of the South African and the African condition.


About Ingrid Martens

I’M Original Productions

Executive Producer & Director

2010 – Present (5 years)


17 February 2015

WITS TV & Film School

with Joyti Mistry's Class 

September 2014

IFFEST Document.Art Romania

It is one of the first festivals of its type in South-Eastern Europe: “Document.Art.”, International Film Festival on Art, Ecology and Tourism. Organised by the Romanian Association of Film.


September 2014

AfrikPlay, Lisbon, Portugal

AfrikPlay that is a gathering of PhD students of Anthropology and African Studies in ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon. Selected to play at series of seminars focused on the screening of documentaries presenting contemporary African realities.


11 November 2014

TedX Johannesburg - The Power to Lift by Ingrid Martens

How do you tell a thousand stories, from a vast continent? You start by acknowledging the wide angle and close-up in every story. This is what came out of ‘Africa Shafted’, Ingrid Martens highly acclaimed documentary, shot entirely inside the Ponte Towers elevator, one of the tallest buildings in Johannesburg and home to foreign nationals from across the continent. In this TEDxJohannesburg 2014 talk, she skillfully uses a series of video clips to make the point that we all have the power to lift ourselves if we zoom into the close-ups and step over the wide angles that divide us.


 “When you hear voodoo you think crazy black folk. When you hear starvation you think Ethiopia. When you hear third world, you SEE Africa, right?  Award winning journalist Ingrid Martens's beautifully profound Ted Talk not only refreshingly tears to shreds our stereotypes of the vast continent but gets to the heart of the power within us all to view life from the "close up" - and the miracles that can be achieved with this tiny shift in perspective.”  Trish Malone


August 2014

Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

Selected to play at  Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the South African Embassy celebrate 20 Years of Democracy in South Africa. "This jubilee by hosting a critical appraisal of the developments since 1994... the analysis of South Africa also grants insights into the promises and challenges democratic societies worldwide have to come to terms with."


May 2014

World Design Capital Week In Cape Town and Joburg Session

Only film to screening during the sessions thanks to the selection of Pidgen Perfect, Scotland.


4 March 2014

Bought by UCT Library

The film collection is part of the African Studies Library, a post-graduate/research library  at UCT.  Films are used for subject teaching as well as for the study of film in Africa.   Apart from student use, we increasingly see film researchers from all corners of the globe.   Films are viewed  on campus - either in the classroom or in the library.  Very occasionally we will lend them off campus to NGOs or cultural groups for educational purposes.


8 December 2013

Africa International Film Festival, Nigeria, Calabar

"A [Official Jury] Special Mention goes to Africa Shafted, South Africa, by Ingrid Martens ... for its beautifully crafted pan-African story, dealing poetically with a universal subject, bringing the human aspect of migration to light." Hans-Christian Mahnke, President of Documentary Jury AFRIFF 2013, Calabar Nigeria.


2 November 2013

Broadcast on FX, a Fox Channel, in Africa

Top TV, MyTV and more


1o October 2013 

Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam, Cinema LantarenVenster, Netherlands


October 2013

DocWatchers New York, US 

“I must tell you that Africa Shafted was my hands down favorite doc in the festival this year. I think the film in amazing, and I haven't stopped talking about it. I was thrilled to hear that the film is going to be a part of AFF's Traveling Series.“  Hellura Lyle @ Doc Watchers' Inc/NY ​


October 2013 

Africa in Motion, Scotland 

Africa Shafted: Under One Roof - UK Premiere 

It captures the views and opinions of people from every corner of the African continent who are now residing in South Africa. These immigrants and refugees, who have been seen as scary, undeserving or criminal by so many others in post-apartheid South Africa, are actually diverse, ordinary people, each with a dream of a better life and wisdom to share. Sadly the film also exposes the very prejudice that led to the violent xenophobic attacks that are still today an ongoing chapter in South Africa’s recent history. 


"Just watched the film as part of the Scotland African film festival in Edinburgh. Can't even describe how impressed I am. Long since a film has touched me this much."  Johannes Gröber​


October 2013

UN Student Event, SA

 "We enjoyed a very fruitful discussion thereafter, touching especially on the issue of identity and considering how an African one may help alleviate inter-cultural/ethnic conflicts. As  solutions we discussed educational measures to make South Africans more aware of other African cultures, but also finding ways to encourage South Africans to travel into Africa and experience those cultures first hand."  Chané Rama Dahya, United Nations Association, South Africa


31 August 2013

Atlas Studios Film Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa

Do go and see Africa Shafted at the 1st Atlas Studios Film Festival on the 31 August 2013. "Popular and powerful films - both fiction and documentaries - shot in Johannesburg, by Joburgers telling Joburg stories..."


12 August 2013

DVD Release

Yes it has taken a very long time, but finally the DVD will be available right here on the website before the end of this month.


June 2013

N +1 by Anna Hartford

Ponte City is an apartment block on the outskirts of central Johannesburg. It’s commandingly hideous, in the manner perfected in the early ’70s: a vast cylindrical barrack, fifty-four stories tall, made vaster still by the ridge on which it’s built and the enormous red billboard that glows, siren-like, from its top. There’s been chatter about the building in the South African press recently, and the big news is this: it’s an OK place, “workable.” The people inside pay some rent and live there; they make some food and sleep there; they wash themselves and flush there. Kids play in the corridors. Neighbors ask one another to keep it down.

12 June 2013

AfricAvenir, World Refugee Day, WIndhoek, Namibia

The screening of Africa Shafted: Under one roof honours the courage, the strength, and determination of women, men, and children, who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.


Each year, on June 20, the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day. On Wednesday, 12 June 2013, 6:30 pm, AfricAvenir Windhoek and the FNCC present the Namibian film premiere of Africa Shafted: Under one roof by South African Director Ingrid Martens, South Africa 2011, 50 min. The World Refugee Day is a day to recognize the contributions of refugees in their communities. The screening of Africa Shafted: Under one roof honours the courage, the strength, and determination of women, men, and children, who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.


NewEra, 12 June 2013

WINDHOEK-AfricAvenir Windhoek and the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) will be celebrating World Refugee Day with the Namibian film premiere of Africa Shafted: Under one roof by South African Director Ingrid Martens and that will feature music by the late Jackson Kaujeua.


Each year, on June 20, the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day, a day to recognise the contributions of refugees in their communities. The screening of Africa Shafted: Under one roof honours the courage, the strength, and determination of women, men, and children, who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. A film constructed entirely of elevator conversations, this simple and uncompromising idea provides a beautiful clarity of form. All the filming takes place in one of eight lifts that travel 54 floors every day and provide a platform for people from all walks of life to engage with the camera and tell their story.


The film purports to look at xenophobia through situating itself in the intense and somewhat claustrophobic surrounding of the tower lifts, which link the 54 stories, housing nationalities from all across Africa. In these lifts, the film encounters residents and their feelings toward one another.


Travel News Namibia, 12 June 2013

Africa Shafted – Under One Roof, is a documentary directed by South African Ingrid Martens and it is constructed entirely of elevator conversations. Filmed in Africa’s tallest apartment building, the Ponte Towers, this film captures the views and opinions of ordinary people from every corner of the African continent who have been seen as scary, undeserving, criminal or drug sellers by so many in post-apartheid South Africa. Instead what you see in this documentary are diverse ordinary people, each with a dream of a better life, and wisdom to share.


The film features prominently the music of Namibia’s very own Jackson Kaujeua.


5 June 2013

Africa Films Day, Budapest, Hungary


We Love Budapest, June 2013

Six films, six different viewpoint - films from/about Africa. Six different styles for Oscar-winning blockbuster to groovy concertfilm to shocking documentary (Africa Shafted: under one roof) to low-budget drama to romantic comedy. So you can be sure, that you find something that fits your taste. All the screenings are free with original language and english subtitles.


May 2013


Shown at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York on the 21st May 2013.  For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas—engaging both global and local communities. With world-

renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.



A diverse mix of fiction and documentary, this popular annual series—a cinematic companion to BAM’s DanceAfrica celebration—presents highlights from the New York African Film Festival, including the best new films from Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, South Africa and beyond.


AFRICA SHAFTED: Africa’s tallest residential building is in downtown Johannesburg and houses more than 4,000 people. This poignant and humorous documentary offers an honest glimpse of Africa through this building and the people living under its roof—from the tragic reality of xenophobia to the powerful message that, through dialogue and understanding, respect can begin to take root.


9 April 2013

New York African Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center, United States of America


Africacultures, April 2013

The New York African Film Festival returns to Film Society of Lincoln Center April 3 - 9 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The festival continues at Columbia University's Institute of African Studies on Thursday, April 18 for a daylong, free scholarly public program, then heads to the Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem May 2 to 5. NYAFF closes over Memorial Day Weekend May 24 to 27 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek-part of the dance and music festival DanceAfrica.

Under the banner "Looking Back, Looking Forward: 20 Years of the New York African Film Festival", our 2013 edition is dedicated to commemorating half a century of African cinema and two decades of work introducing American audiences to the best of this cinema and its protagonists.


22 February 2013

The Burton Wire, Kaitlin Higgins

"Often painful, harsh, and sometimes awkward, but thoroughly honest and eye-opening."


Goucher College hosted this year’s Baltimore African Film Festival from Feb. 22 to 24. The festival’s lineup included an afternoon’s worth of films from South Africa, including Africa Shafted: Under One Roof (Ingrid Martens, 2011).


A documentary about Johannesburg’s Ponte City–Africa’s tallest residential building–Africa Shafted explores the deeply-rooted xenophobia of some of the building’s residents. Martens filmed mostly from within the building’s eight elevator shafts, initiating candid interviews with the passengers who represent many African countries, including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Burundi, among others. In the elevator, Martens meets some residents only once or twice, while others develop a relationship with the camera.


“It’s some sort of a refugee camp for us,” says one interviewee of the diversity amongst the nearly 4000 residents at Ponte. Most have come to South Africa for safety and livelihood, which their homes could not provide, and to Ponte in particular because it is known for housing “all of Africa” throughout its 44 floors. However, there can be much animosity and tension between those seeking their refuge from different countries. Many interviewed in the elevator accuse Nigerians of criminal acts, while South Africans blame foreigners in general for stealing their jobs and their wives.


Martens’ portrayal of South Africa through the residents of Ponte City is often painful, harsh, and sometimes awkward, but thoroughly honest and eye-opening. She shows, in the tiny and usually crowded elevator shafts, what it means to be a foreigner, perhaps even in one’s own country.


22 February 2013

Baltimore African Film Festival, United States of America

Goucher College will host Baltimore’s 2013 African Film Festival on Feb. 22-24. Screenings of seven critically acclaimed short and feature-length films that represent Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, the Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Sudan.


January 2013

African Film Festival, United States of America​

The annual African Film Festival provides a striking opportunity to learn about Africa and the African diaspora through recent films. The concerns of African filmmakers are often aesthetic and political—the desire to depict the realities of their everyday lives and to interpret their history from their own perspective. A number of the featured documentaries look to the past to examine forces that continue to influence the present. Our Beloved Sudantraces the complex history leading to the partition of Sudan; The Unbroken Spirit focuses on the courageous fight for a multiparty democracy in Kenya; and the arc of Black Africa, White Marble moves from colonial-era to present-day Republic of Congo. All three take the vantage point of one individual in order to bring to life a larger history. Other documentaries observe life as it unfolds and portray collective experience: the poeticBroken Stones depicts Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the earthquake and Africa Shafted focuses on Johannesburg, South Africa as it absorbs immigrants from all over Africa. Microphone celebrates Egypt’s vibrant youth culture of hip-hop and graffiti art, while How to Steal 2 Million, a stylish noir, and a number of short films highlight the creative spirit of younger filmmakers.


January 2013


JOZI Film + School is a film awareness and appreciation initiative run by The Bioscope Independent Cinema and the Goethe-Institute South Africa to introduce youngsters to the art of filmmaking. The programme targets primary and secondary schoolchildren from under-resourced schools in the inner city such.


November 2012

Lesotho Film Festival, Maseru


November 2012

Cinema Planeta & Digital Culture Centre, Mexico 


12 November 2012

Smart Money TV

South African documentary maker Ingrid Martens talks about her latest doc - Africa Shafted Under One Roof - which looks at the people who live in Johannesburg’s Ponte Building. It is a 54 floor building that contains inhabitants from almost every country in Africa and they talk to Martens through a series of conversations in the lifts, shot over two years.


August 2012

SAIIA-KAS Careers Evening 2012 – A Success!  Cayley Bowland and Christopher Wood

The main attraction of this annual event is for young people and undergraduate students  to listen and engage with professionals who share their experiences and insights about their careers. This year's speakers were Bobby Godsell, current member of the South African Presidency's National Planning Committee and former CEO of AngloGold-Ashanti; Ingrid Martens, award-winning filmmaker and television journalist; Fiona Musana, Communications Director for Greenpeace South Africa; McIntosh Polela, spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime, also known as the Hawks; and Daniel Makokera, CEO of Pamuzinda Productions and well-known African journalist and presenter of the popular news show Africa360.


July 2012

Africa Shafted: The Realities of Urban Life in Johannesburg, Urban Times, Jenna Van Schoor

Ponte Towers is a landmark building in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, and not only because of its position, height or the lit-up advertising for cellular provider Vodacom along the top of its roof. For years, “Ponte”, as it is known, has been one of the most feared places in downtown Johannesburg. Seen as a notorious high-rise apartment building populated by drug-dealers, it’s a place that many people are scared to go into, never mind explore.


Even documentary director Ingrid Martens was hesitant to visit Ponte, although she had traveled to several other cities throughout Africa, as she says in this interview...


July 2012

Q&A with Women in Film Mexico


June 2012

Mexico Institute of Cinematography, Mexico


June 2012

The Biscope, SA

"Using the simple technique of elevator conversations to take us into the life and people of this unusual building, this film offers insight in a human and moving way. I was glued to the screen."  Anton Harber, Wits Journalism and Media Professor​​​​


June 2012

Gauteng Film Commission

For years the massive Ponte apartment building in downtown Johannesburg has been associated with inner city crime and grime – gangsters, drug dealers, fugitives. But a new documentary reveals a different picture, of a colourful and cosmopolitan community, a safe refuge for ordinary people from across Africa, under one roof.


Africa Shafted: Under One Roof, a self-funded labour of love by documentary filmmaker Ingrid Martens, begins a limited release at the Bioscope independent cinema on Saturday 30 June. The film explores the experience of living in Ponte, a magnet for economic and political refugees from all corners of the African continent. “The documentary was an opportunity for me to share my travels across the continent,” Martens says. “I’ve been to about 28 countries on the continent, which is my passion to tell stories about.


May 2012

Institute of International Law in Africa, South Africa


16 May.

WITS Political Studies, SA 

Shown in the run-up to Africa Day at the Wits on Thursday,


April 2012

Cinema Planeta, Mexico 

JURY AWARD WINNER MOST ORIGINAL TREATMENT "On his way to film inside an elevator for 90% of the interviews. Portrays the diversity and plurality of migrants from the same continent, concentrated in a building of 450 apartments on 54 floors in Johannesburg. With a still camera and a good pace mounting and mobility achieved. With a door latch holds the change of subject: work, women, religion, corruption, crime, death, highlighting racism and racial discrimination. An elevator becomes a planet." Cinema Planeta (note translation)


11 February 2012

First Jozi Film Festival, SA 

Shown to a full house at The Biscope on the 11 February 2012 with the filmmaker in attendance.


February 2012

Film and Johannesburg’s Ponte City, Basia Lewando & Wska Cummings

The German writer Norman Ohler described Johannesburg’s Ponte City, Africa’s tallest residential building, thus: “Ponte sums up all the hope, all the wrong ideas of modernism, all the decay, all the craziness of the city. It is a symbolic building, a sort of white whale, it is concrete fear, the tower of Babel, and yet it is strangely beautiful.” A new documentary by Ingrid Martens, Africa Shafted, adds to the wide variety of cultural and artistic interest in Ponte, home to around 4000 people in Hillbrow, on the edge of downtown 


Johannesburg. The film purports to look at xenophobia through situating itself in the intense and somewhat claustrophobic surrounding of the tower lifts, which link the 52 stories, housing nationalities from all across Africa. In these lifts, the film encounters residents and their feelings toward one another. The trailer does indeed look interesting.


December 2011

Africa, Carribbean & Specific Groups of States, Lesotho 


The ACP Secretariat organizes the screening of the film Africa Shafted in Maseru on 10 December 2011 to commemorate the Human Rights Day and shed lights on different aspects of migration.


December 2011

Africa, Carribbean & Specific Groups of States, Brussels 

SHOWN TO AMBASSADORS FROM 79 COUNTRIES The ACP Secretariat organizes the screening of the film Africa Shafted at the ACP House (451, Avenue Georges Henri – 1200 Brussels) on Monday 19 December 2011 to commemorate the International Migrants’ Day and shed lights on different aspects of South-South migration.


December 2011

UNiTE Film Festival, SA December 2011 

To coincide with the annual 16 Days of Activism Campaign, UNDP and UNFPA in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture, Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, the Films and Publications Board (FPB), UNWomen, UNICEF, and foreign missions such as the Jamaican High Commission, British High Commission and the Department for International Development (DFID); with Women of the Sun and Nayanaya Pictures are hosting a 16 Days of Activism Film Festival


December 2011

Jamal, Scoutnetworkblog

This month’s film at Atlas Studios first Wednesday film club concluded with the longest and most sincere round of applause I’ve heard since joining the club. Africa shafted: under one roof, provides a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in Ponte, Johannesburg’s most notorious building, during its peak as a home for Africans.


Filming for the documentary started in 2006 and was completed a month before the brutal outbreak of xenophobic attacks across South Africa in August 2008. Through conversations with residents  of local and foreign nationality the film, unintentionally acts as a lead up  to the outbreak of the attacks. Residents were, for the most part interviewed in the lifts, accomplishing a sense of honesty and authenticity in their accounts of life in Ponte, Johannesburg and South Africa.


The film is an eye opener for the collective South African consciousness as it addresses the still highly prevalent social evils of prejudice and xenophobia. It gives a voice to the African diaspora, an alternative viewpoint of those seen as scary, undeserving, criminals and drug dealers. What you see instead is a hard-working, open-minded people with a dream of a better life.


12 September 2011

Tri Continental Film Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa

“A film constructed entirely of elevator conversations. This simple and uncompromising idea provides a beautiful clarity of form. I have often looked up curiously at the tower of Ponte and wondered what life is like in there. This film takes you right to it’s heart in a gentle and unobtrusive way. The apparent randomness of the film’s narrative quite subversively creeps up on you and talks to you in a uniquely frank way about the condition of being a foreigner in South Africa as well as being a South African in South Africa.” Angus Gibson, Oscar nominated filmmaker

11 September 2011

WITS School of Arts, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Shafted is an eye opening personal insight into the lives of residents of Johannesburg’s most notorious building. Creatively shot and edited, it gives a great seat to witness their comings and goings.”  Vanashree Govender, TV News Editor and Journalist 


17 September 2011 

Africa Shafted, SABC RSG Radio Interview on Naweekaktueel

Produced by Mètzi van der Merwe

Slideshow images by Ingrid Martens


September 2011 

Where people find solace from xenophobia, The Citizen (Dar es Salaam), Erick Mchome

Johannesburg — It is referred to as the America of Africa. A big and booming economy, job opportunities and good life are all said to be easily available in South Africa. Call it by any name you like: Zululand or Madiba's country. It is one of Africa's nations with a unique history from the dark days of apartheid that lasted more than half a century.


To many African youth, stories are told of countless opportunities for anyone willing to work hard in South Africa. It is not surprising therefore that many job and business hunters have been crossing borders illegally to go 'South'.


In Tanzania, there are mothers crying every morning when they remember their sons who left home to go to South Africa to look for greener pastures. They never came back and no one knows if they are alive or not.


It has never been easy here. As I enter Cinema Noveau, a cinema hall in Rosebank, a white suburb in Johannesburg, where movies and films are shown to celebrate the TriContinental Film Festival in South Africa, I come across a lot of non-south Africans who are here to watch a documentary, Africa Shafted-Under One Roof. This is a story about a building in South Africa named Ponte, a towering cylinder of concrete, steel and glass which stands 54 storeys on a rocky outcropping on the edge of Johannesburg's notorious Hillbrow area. The building has 467 flats which were formerly resided in by about 4,000 residents-most of them being non-South Africans. From the beginning, Ponte was going to be something spectacular. Designed by a renowned South African architect, Rodney Grosskopff, and built in 1976, Ponte City, as it's formally called, was to be South Africa's first circular skyscraper--a 568-foot hollow tower with a bare rock floor at its base. The building was to be a symbol of the vitality of cosmopolitan Johannesburg, Grosskopff told the Christian Science Monitor.


That changed in 1994, with apartheid's fall. As black South Africans began living in formerly segregated inner-city areas, including Ponte, whites vacated the city. It was during this period when non-South Africans came to find home at Ponte. "It was a big collection, we were people from all over Africa living in peace and harmony under one roof and everything seemed fine during those days," says Michael Okonkwo, a Nigerian living in Johannesburg.


October 2011

Atlas Studios Wednesday Film Club, Johannesburg, South Africa

"This month’s film at Atlas Studios first Wednesday film club concluded with the longest and most sincere round of applause I’ve heard since joining the club. Africa shafted: under one roof, provides a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in Ponte, Johannesburg’s most notorious building, during its peak as a home for Africans..." link

October 2011

Documentary maker, Ingrid Martens on her new do, Balancing Act interview by Russel Southwood

South African documentary maker Ingrid Martens talks about her latest doc - Africa Shafted Under One Roof - which looks at the people who live in Johannesburg's Ponte Building. It is a 54 floor building that contains inhabitants from almost every country in Africa and they talk to Martens through a series of conversations in the lifts.


11 July 2011

Durban International Film Festival, South Africa

“A packed lift is generally confining, uncomfortable and claustrophobic. But the African-filled one in Shafted is intimate, revealing and even liberating.”​ Angie Kapelianis, SA Journalist​


“Having been an 'African refugee’ myself in far away countries of the northern hemisphere, not only did one have to deal with the racism, buy the xenophobia as well. Africa Shafted – from an ‘African Perspective’, is telling the story like few have. The film is actually a documentary on African Refugees living at Ponte City in downtown. Ingrid has been working on the movie for a number of years now, and she has invested a lot of emotion and capital on it. It's called "Africa Shafted" and in many respects, the title explains the plot: As a refugee, your country "shafts" you, and then your "host" country. Given the recent events in the country, it could not have arrived at a better time.” Sifiso Ntuli, a cultural activist in Amandla


“This is a film that I’m greatly honoured to be associated with. It is real, relevant and most of all a true reflection of our cross-country relationships in South Africa. As a Congolese foreigner living in this country I’m proud to be part of this story”. Mapumba DRC & SA music contributor

​“Shafted manages to expose the humanity of people living in what could be highly dehumanising city scraper conditions. It is intimate, touching in its honesty and wonderfully executed." Eric Miyeni, filmmaker and author 

“Your documentary is very impressive, informative and educative. I think its a good way of creating awareness about co-existence of different nations and peoples. After all no one is an island in this world that we live in. We are supposed to be people of integrity and we know the critical problems of the day and can only solve them by talking to one another, rather than trashing and name calling and character assassinating.​ We live in the 21st century not in zero century, lets listen and learn from each other and be part of the solution, not part of the problem as that will take us no where. Am saying this *cause for 16 years I lived in other peoples countries as a freedom fighter refugee and it widened my horizons, opened my eyes and made me a universal and an international person who today fits any where in the world and feel like a human being among human beings of any colors, cultures and languages. Ingrid with these few words keep it up and I would wholeheartedly be honored to contribute my song Africa to Africa Shafted Documentary Film.” Jackson Kaujeua Senior, Namibian music contributor


April - May 2011

Africa World Documentary Film Festival, Three Continents: Barbados, Cameroon & US

“One of the best films I have ever seen on the lives of the invisible people of the beautiful city of Johannesburg. A truly humane and entertaining look at our continent personified by its complex and beautiful people.” Akin Omotoso, introduced film in Barbados


"We felt it was a brave and original film, and the central image was very strong and visually powerful."  Jane Bryce, Professor of African Literature and Cinema, University of the West Indies, Barbados


Johannesburg’s Babel Falls, James Kindle, Cronkite Zine, 2009

In a city where xenophobic violence turned deadly, Johannesburg’s most iconic skyscraper showed that South Africans and foreigners could live together in peace. But that is all changing.

This is a story about a building in South Africa named Ponte, a towering cylinder of concrete, steel and glass. It stands 54 stories on a rocky outcropping on the edge of Johannesburg’s notorious Hillbrow area. Four-hundred sixty-seven flats. Formerly about 4,000 residents. For a time it was the largest residential structure in the Southern Hemisphere; in South Africa it still is. These are the facts.


After that, things get a little murkier. Because within Ponte’s 54 stories and 32-year history is a maze of interpretations and contradictions that mirror the recent history of the country that surrounds it.

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