I eventually managed to watch the film “Four Corners.” The many “voices” of the film was violent, gory, depressing, hopeful, and sobering. It stirred within me anger, fear, and a strong urge to be an activist for the People of the Cape Flats. I am writing from the perspective of a coloured male who has known these realities growing up on the Cape Flats and being intimately familiar with violence, substance abuse and broken families that is being portrayed by the film. It setting is mostly in Manenberg, a township that is part of the Cape Flats which was designed by the apartheid government of South Africa used as a dumping ground for the coloured and black community. Most coloured people born and raised on the Cape Flats will be familiar or even identify with much of what was portrayed.
So in this first blog post, will I encourage you to watch it? Definitely yes. However, there are many moments that I felt Gabriel was speaking only about a part of the coloured community and not the whole. But that’s for subsequent posts.
First some background to the film “Four Corners”. The director, Ian Gabriel, a coloured man (or mixed-race if you want to be politically correct globally speaking) was born in Durban. As a film director, he has made quite an impact on both the local and international scene. Four Corners have been submitted for nomination for the Academy Awards in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, the film also received the International Press Academy “Best Foreign Film” nomination, and the nomination for MBOISA (most beautiful object in South Africa). There is no doubt that the film has made a huge impact by conveying a story of a “forgotten world,” the world of the coloured community on the Cape Flats.
Gabriel attempts to draw four story lines of startling reality together that offers more than just a glimpse into the lives of the coloured community of the Cape Flats. His attempt is one to offer hope to people where it often seems lost or impossible (here’s an interview with Gabriel on Four Corners).
The four story lines which remain interconnected are as follows:
- Farakhan, an ex-prisoner who was a general in the 28 gang in Poolsmoor prison, a prison on the Cape Flats renowned for gang violence, wants to reform his life. He however first aims to avenge the death of his father and then track down his son, Ricardo, whom he has had no contact with since birth. Unfortunately, not-knowing he is on an automatic collision course with Gasant, a gang member from the rival 26 gang.
- A teenage boy, Ricardo, the son of the ex-prisoner and gang member, Farakhan, was raised by his grandmother as he has never known his parents. Ricardo is a chess prodigy but is being lured into the 26 gang by Gasant and has to prove himself worthy by ultimately killing his father, Farakhan. Unfortunately Ricardo does not know that the ex-gang member is his father and discovers it under unfortunate circumstances.
- A medical doctor, Leila, who was born on the Cape Flats and now lives in England having come back to South Africa to tie up loose ends due the death of her father. She is also the romantic counterpart of Farakhan before his imprisonment and becomes romantically involved with him once more. Her life soon becomes enthralled in the chaos that is all too familiar with that of the Cape Flats, and finally
- A police captain, Tito, who becomes involved in Ricardo’s life due to a serial killer. Tito becomes a sort of guardian angel to Ricardo while in search of the “station stranger,” a serial killer of young people. The “station stranger” is actually based on the real life event of the “station strangler” who’s victims were mainly boys on the Cape Flats during the years 1986-1994.
My series of blog posts will focus on the following:
- What I liked about the film,
- What I disliked about the film,
- The truths offered by the film, and
- The hope offered by the film.