Springbok Nude Girls

This movie is NOT porn: Springbok Nude Girls

Before Fokofpolisiekar and The Parlotones, the breakthrough, height-of-alternative rock band from South Africa was Springbok Nude Girls. I don’t know if they were really “a band who captured the imagination of a generation” [the film’s tagline], but they were definitely big, important, and defining in the history of South African music. The film is a production by Thinking Owl Films in association with Sony Music Entertainment Africa. It’s unclear exactly where the money for the movie came from, which means we don’t know how biased or objective the film really is. Is it a true documentary, or more of a propoganda publicity piece that helps promote the band’s latest shows?

Sony Music’s exact involvement is unclear, and at least some of the film’s production budget came from a crowdfunding campaign. The film is directed and produced by Michelle Pretorius, and it tells the story of the early beginnings of the band – a story based in the early post-1994 democratic South Africa. It depicts the band’s origin as a reaction to state censorship and influences of American and British music.

Springbok Nude Girls

As is often the case with these kind of films, it consists largely of archive footage from over the last 20 years, and often technically inferior video footage from the 90’s. Even in newer footage, everything isn’t technically as it should be. The biggest nitpick being the summaries of each member’s post-SNG career at the end of the film not being on screen long enough to read. Maybe this is better for a DVD viewing, where a pause button will come in handy.

Still, the film is fun. After seeing it, it feels like you know the Nude Girls a little better. Their charm and infectious enthusiasm for what they were doing is enough to get anyone on their side, but their entertaining anecdotes make this a very entertaining time at the cinema. Unlike the Fokofpolisiekar documentary, it doesn’t feel self-celebratory or aggrandising. And while it doesn’t delve into details, it never tries to hide the fact that the band had some darker time with substance abuse and interpersonal conflict.

It could’ve been better, but most of the technical annoyances (focus, framing, lighting, and sound) will probably barely be noticed by the average audience member. It’s also not a film purely made for fans – a knowledge of the band and their music isn’t a requirement for enjoyment. I’m still not sure who’s point of view is portrayed, and how much of a say the band had in what gets included or not, but the film appears relatively balanced and truthful. It might even give you newfound insight on the art of a band you probably already admire and respect.


Springbok Nude Girls is a documentary film directed and produced by Michelle Pretorius, about the band Springbok Nude Girls, a five-piece originally from 1990’s Stellenbosch. It’s currently screening at The Bioscope in Johannesburg, on 20, 21, 27, 28, & 29 June. Get your tickets here.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

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