Fantasia 2014 | Report #6

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It’s a crime drama set in Capetown’s Cape Flats, a part of the city that originally served as a sort of dumping ground for mixed race (“coloured”) people during the apartheid era, when they were forced out of areas designated as whites-only.

 

 

 

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Four Corners is one of those films that not only succeeds as entertainment (which certainly must be the primary goal of every film at Fantasia) but also opens up a new world and teaches you something you didn’t know. It’s a crime drama set in Capetown’s Cape Flats, a part of the city that originally served as a sort of dumping ground for mixed race (“coloured”) people during the apartheid era, when they were forced out of areas designated as whites-only.

As depicted in Four Corners, and in reality also, much of daily life in Cape Flats is dominated by warfare among the “number gangs” (in the film, the 26 and 28 gangs), and they provide a structure and outlet for the ambitions of young people that might, under happier circumstances, be putting their energy into completing their education and becoming established in a legitimate career. Ricardo (Jezzriel Skel) lives with his grandmother and is a chess prodigy, but is also tempted by the gang life and its promise of easy money, as well as the male role model provided by the local leader Gasang (Irshaad Ally).

Personal relationships are very complicated in this crowded ghetto, but no more than you might expect in real life. Farakhan (Brendon Daniels) is a former gang leader (then known as Lee) from the neighborhood who has just been released from prison and wants to leave the gang world behind (and when you see what he does to get rid of his gang tattoo or “flag” you will be inclined to believe he is serious). He’s also Ricardo’s father, although the boy doesn’t know of his existence (Farakhan has been in jail for all of Ricardo’s life), and an old flame of Leila (Lindiwe Matshikiza), a physician who studied in London and now lives there. Leila is just in town to attend her father’s funeral and dispose of his possessions, but you know life just can’t be that simple.

At the same time, there’s a series of murders of young boys going on, and with that subplot screenwriters Ian Gabriel (who also directed), Terence Hamond, and Hofmeyr Scholtz may have gone a bridge too far in terms of complicating the plot line. That quibble aside, Four Corners tells a gripping story with lots of action, with location shooting by Vicci Turpin (on some streets that it’s a good bet you will never see in real life—even the cops don’t want to go there) and music by Markus Wormstorm both real pluses in terms of making the film work. South Africa thought so highly of this film that it was their entry for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2014, but it was not selected as a finalist (I suspect some prejudice against genre films was at work—Oscar tend to prefer more uplifting material). | Sarah Boslaugh

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