Vivid reconstruction of the student protests at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa. When the government decided to raise tuition fees in 2015, the students rose up, using the hashtag #FeesMustFall. Prominent protest leaders, including activist Shaeera Kalla, talk about how the initially peaceful demonstration was quashed when the university brought in the police.
Even before the planned hike in tuition fees, many of the students at Wits University lived below the poverty line. Thousands of students, many of whom are black, depend on the food bank for their daily sustenance. The #FeesMustFall movement not only aims at keeping education accessible to the under-privileged, but also at resolving the predicament for many of the university’s low-skilled employees, who work for minimal pay in miserable conditions.
The movement soon goes viral and several other universities join the protests. Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of the university and former anti-apartheid activist, is initially willing to listen. But when he is unable to maintain order, he decides to bring 1,000 policemen to the campus, with disastrous consequences. Many students are arrested or injured, including Shaeera Kalla, who is hit by rubber bullets thirteen times. The students eventually manage to avert the increase in tuition fees, but the more encompassing struggle for a just and equal South Africa has not yet been won.
Everything Must Fall has been selected for the Activist competition and will be screened at Movies that Matter Festival 2019 (22-30 March, The Hague).