Four Corners – What I liked about it

In one sentence.

It’s 100% local.

As a South African, one cannot be more proud of that. From the setting of the film to the actors, the music, the language used and even the accents. Not only is it 100% local, it’s Cape Flats local.

1. Local is Lekker

I think it’s so easy to write of what’s local and to negate the talent we have in South Africa in comparison to what is international. While South Africa is not Hollywood, it is exactly that. NOT Hollywood. We tend to so easily adopt and accept what comes into South Africa but are frequently cynical and critical of what’s local especially in the entertainment industry. The fact that Four Corners have been nominated for such prestigious awards is evidence of the quality we have here at home.

I’m always wowed when I see amazing architecture and settings in international films and when I initially watched Four Corners I was embarrassed of the setting. I was embarrassed because I thought that why do we have to air our dirty laundry for the world to see? Couldn’t they choose a different location? A better location? It’s quite easy to be ashamed of our heritage hey? But as the film advanced I relised that the setting, the Cape Flats, wasn’t an extra, it was a character in the film. Often a location is chosen that would add a dimension to the film, but in Four Corners, the setting was not only a character but had character. It added such a depth to the film that enforced the message of hardship and hope.

Often, the coloured accent is one that is mocked at from the pronunciation, the dictation and the words used. But I wonder why we don’t ridicule or mock  the American accent, or the French and Italian, etc. It’s so easy to once again frown upon what is ours and desire for what is foreign. There is beauty in what is local. It is local that makes us unique, that makes us South African, that makes us Cape Flats. I loved Four Corners for reminding me that.

2. Reality really is a friend of mine

Initially I was skeptical of the story line purely because of what and how the film portrayed the coloured community. I mean why produce something that is so offensive and degrading to me as a part of that community? I sat watching the film and wondered so many times, “what has become of our people?” Yes, while we are all South Africans, it’s a reality that we have different cultures in between and my culture according to the film was flailing. But there is nothing more sobering than reality. To me it was once again a vivid reminder that I could have been a part of that system as it was reality that surrounded me. I recall walking to school in Heideveld often oblivious of the violence and despair that surrounded me but there were times when I was not only aware of that reality but was faced many times with people trying to get their own at another’s expense so that they could make it through another day. My experiences range from being held at knife point too many times that I would want to remember, being threaten at gun point right in front of my own house, robbed numerous times, watched police terrorise the community for no reason, watch gangs declare war to gain more territory without regard to the community, neighbours and families burgling each other, poverty, fear, hopelessness. It’s a Cape Flats reality. It was my reality. Why try to ignore it? It only entrenches that lifestyle.

 

3. The sun’ll come out tomorrow

It’s political agenda is clear. The Cape Flats is a product of the apartheid system, “This house is mine again. as it was when the government dumped us here. I’m staying. No-one takes away this house again” Farakahn (Brendon Daniels). While the struggles of oppression, violence and hopelessness is ever present, it doesn’t give up on the message of hope. Despite all that surrounds the people, there are those “guardian angels” that take special interest and care in you as was the case with Capt. Tito and Ricardo. It’s a reminder that we are never truly alone. Being alone is due to our own isolation, even when the community rejects you for whatever reason there is always someone who will care.

And finally, everyone has the capacity within themselves to make a difference. While it’s not always possible to steer away from the peer pressure, ultimately it remains just that – Pressure. We either give into it or we don’t. It’s our choice. And when we mess up, there is another chance. It was forcibly displayed in the lives of both Farakhan and Ricardo. We are not that messed up or too far gone for a new beginning.

Four Corners

Four Corners – An Introduction

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.