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Fordsburg Film Festival – Majestic Cinema


19 September 2011 No Comment

The Fordsburg Film Festival is part of the unfolding narrative of reconnection, rejuvenation and remaking of the historic locality of Fordsburg.  It is presented by The Fietas Festival and The Bioscope Independent Cinema as part of the Jo’burg Arts Alive International Festival programme.

The Fordsburg Film Festival will offer screenings twice a day, matinees and evenings, on 23, 24 and 25 September at the old Majestic cinema on Central Road. On Sunday 25 September the programme will cater for a 10h00 show as well as a 5 ‘0 clock Indian film screening just as in days of old.

Screenings will be followed by discussions led by notable local personalities and will feature surviving and present day personalities of Fordsburg and related communities.

In its titles and discussion programme the film festival relates both to the historical and contemporary experience of Fordsburg. This speaks to:

  • the history, development and decline of Fordsburg
  • historical peoples and characters of Fordsburg
  • immigrant experiences
  • livelihoods of the like of waiters, tailors and barbers that are experienced in Fordsburg today.


Fordsburg was originally one of the four mining camps out of which Johannesburg grew. Over time it grew as a vibrant leisure and entertainment centre for black people in general – sporting bioscopes, eating houses, dance halls, cafes and shebeens. At the cutting edge of black urban culture from the 1940s at least, Fordsburg was defined by its anti-apartheid protest rallies at Red Square; its fish and chips and toasted steaks; its gangsters and romantic liaisons; its music, clubs and street fashions; and most prominently by its four bioscopes, off the street and within just a few blocks of one another.

With the implementation of the Group Areas Act Fordsburg went into decline from the mid 1970s on. Post apartheid, with the immigrant settlement in Fordsburg of Indian, Bengali, Pakistani and Somali peoples, Fordsburg has been dramatically revitalised. Today it is described as a “little India”, populated by a colourful array of pavement vendors, restaurants and service shops of barbers, tailors and the like.


The Fordsburg Film Festival takes place at an iconic remnant of a rich cinema going and entertainment culture, the Majestic, which is the last surviving of the independent bioscopes of Fordsburg.

While the other Fordsburg bioscopes, the Lyric, Planet and Avalon have since been converted to other commercial uses, the Majestic still survives in structure – which includes its original box office directly off the street. As in days of old tickets may be purchased at the box office on a “first come first served” basis for R10.

The Majestic Cinema is located on Central Road in Fordsburg.

DOWNLOAD PDF:  Fordsburg-Film-Festival-booklet-FINAL3

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