Making history as the first feature film in South Africa to première at a maximum security prison before its national release in cinemas, the movie Noem My Skollie made its screen debut at the notorious Pollsmoor prison.

On Tuesday August 16th the film which is set on the Cape Flats and in Pollsmoor prison and which is based on the life of scriptwriter John W. Fredericks was screened to an audience of about 150 people. These included wardens, about twenty inmates from the Arts and Culture group, some invited guests from NICRO, and Artscape - who are collaborating with Norwegian partners on a theatre project involving prisoners and parolees, called Help I am Free.

Another screening was held on August 17th, which excluded members of the public and media, in an attempt to reach more of the inmates. 130 male and female prisoners attended this event. The following day another screening was arranged for 130 prison wardens.

Noem My Skollie premièred at Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison - Photo: Lindsey Appolis
The atmosphere was loaded as the film started and the audience was kept on the edge of their seats right up to the end. When the credits rolled, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.

In a Facebook post after the screening the well-known and very talented Christian Bennet who is becoming quite an accomplished film and stage actor and is one of the main supporting actors in  Noem My Skollie, claimed the screening as one of his proudest moments and saying "I loved every second of it. We cried like babies for this movie... I really have talented brasse."

Shihaam Domingo, publicist, strategist and owner of The Domingo Effect***, attended two of the Pollsmoor screenings and says she is still overwhelmed with excitement for what this film has achieved.
"It was so amazing that I had to see it twice. There is a magical authenticity about the movie which is evident in the way the prisoners watching it could immerse themselves in it."
She says she has never before seen anything on the big screen or on TV where our reality is represented in this style. It has the kind of language and it portrays the kind of people that resonates with her to a point where she could say "Oh... Daai was my aunty wat my ma van gepraat het van daai tyd" [Oh... That was (like) my aunty from around that time who my mom used to speak about.]
***See Notice further below

Shihaam was also quite impressed that the cast included so many well-established and award winning actors, most notably Abduragmaan Adams who is said to have mentored all of the younger actors during filming. His influence has definitely added to the synergy and the palpable on-screen energy between the actors.
Actor Christian Bennet (far left) sitting next to John W Fredericks, the scriptwriter on whose life the film Noem My Skollie is based. - Photo: Lindsey Appolis
John Fredericks the writer, Daryne Joshua the director, and David Max Brown the producer, answered questions after the screening. Prisoners commented on the authenticity of the film and also mentioned how it inspired them with hope for their own dreams and aspirations.
In the audience at the first screening, wearing the yellow attire of an awaiting trial prisoner, was one of the leading actors in the film, David Manuel, who had been on parole when the movie was shot and was picked up by police a few months ago for a petty crime, which he denied being involved in. Luckily his case was heard earlier this week and all charges were withdrawn. The next time he sees the film will be as a free man and a bona fide actor that has also been cast in a leading role in a new local feature film.

The screening was made possible with funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and was also supported by Ster-Kinekor, NICRO and the screening company, AV-Direct who made all three days feel like a real cinematic event.
The project manager, working with NICRO and Pollsmoor and who made it all possible, was Wisaal Abrahams.

Noem My Skollie opens in commercial theatres on 2 September 2016.

***Notice: Neither Shihaam nor her company The Domingo Effect handles any of the publicity for Noem My Skollie.
The publicity for this movie is handled by another company called Starburst Promotions who we as have to thank for keeping us updated with news regarding the film.
Shihaam shares her opinions in her personal capacity and has no obligations towards Starburst Promotions or towards the producers of Noem My Skollie

WATCH: Scriptwriter & Lead Actor both talk about the film Noem My Skollie

Also see our previous article Noem My Skollie - The Movie & The Newly Released Title Track by Hemelbesem
Actor Davis Manuel (in yellow prison attire) addressing the audience at the Noem My Skollie première. - Photo: Lindsey Appolis