A stunning short film finds out why young men in the city of Kathlehong jump on moving rail cars despite the obvious, and potentially fatal, danger.

Filmmaker Marco Casino traveled to Kathlehong to explore the South African city two decades after Apartheid. In his short film Staff Riding, (local slang for "train surfing") he interviews two young men who let off steam by jumping on moving trains.


Kathlehong is an impoverished, industrial city formed in 1945 as a black settlement during Apartheid. With high unemployment, the outlook for its residents remains grim. Chabedi Thulo, one of the twenty-somethings in the short, sees train surfing as an act of self-expression.

As you would expect, electrocutions, serious injuries, amputations, and death are far from rare among people who do what Thulo does. But for him, it's a way dealing when life provides little to look forward to, telling Casino, "you want to take off the anger instead of beating someone or robbing them."

Staff Riding won first prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards earlier this week. 

H/T Deadspin

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Orange traffic cones save parking spaces on a neighborhood street in South Boston.

    The Psychology of Boston's Snow Parking Wars

    In Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, an informal code allows residents to claim a parking space after shoveling it out. But the practice is often at odds both with the law and with the mores of changing neighborhoods.

  2. Equity

    Where Amazon HQ2 Could Worsen Affordability the Most

    Some of the cities dubbed finalists in Amazon’s headquarters search are likely to see a greater strain on their housing market, a new analysis finds.

  3. Design

    Paris: 'Please Do Not Give Us This Free Jeff Koons Sculpture'

    Wrong art, wrong location, say critics.

  4. Pittsburgh's skyline

    Can a 'New Localism' Help Cities Transcend Gridlock?

    Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak talk about the model of collaborative urban leadership in their book The New Localism.

  5. Delmi Ruiz Hernandez, 4, top, plays outside of an RV where her family lives on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Mountain View, Calif. The Ruiz Hernandez was family was left homeless after the landlord in the apartment they rented hiked their rent beyond what they could afford.

    Moving Americans Out of Poverty Will Take More Than Money

    A who’s-who of poverty experts outline an ambitious blueprint for “changing the narrative” about being poor in America.