The Meaning of the Buffalo

Director: Karin Slater

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


The arid village of Lekgopung, South Africa, is home to the Balete—the People of the Buffalo. Karin Slater is a wildlife filmmaker who is an outsider to the village. This poetic documentary is her attempt to understand how the Balete people came to take the buffalo as a totem. Slater's search leads to three generations of a family whose shop is the hub of village activity. Rene, the youngest woman, strives to be the first black female game ranger in neighboring Madikwe Game Reserve; her 85-year-old grandmother, the matriarch of the family, dreams of seeing a buffalo before she dies. Mystified and skeptical of the totem, Slater finds herself tracking buffaloes in the game reserve and, in so doing, embarks upon her personal exploration of identity.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

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