With almost every other film made on the Cape Flats that end up showing at mainstream cinemas, there is almost always a negative backlash and usually it's even before anyone who is complaining had actually seen it. Nommer 37 is no different in that there is already a backlash from people who have most certainly not yet seen the film which opens at cinemas on Friday 1 June 2018.
So I watched the premiere of Nommer 37, then wrote a review based purely on the film's entertainment value and I can with one hundred percent certainty say: Nommer 37 is die nomme vannie flêt... It gannie oor nommeskap en gêngsterism soes ôs it kennie...
Yet... The question remains... Do those who are accusing Nommer 37 of having a negative and exploitative agenda have a point? ...and just Why Are Cape Flats Crime Movies Under Constant Fire? It is notable that many of those who are most vociferous in opposing the films made on the Cape Flats are people who double as creative artists and as activists who come up with amazing forms of artistic expression with which they make important social commentary. What is problematic is that they seem to see all forms of artistic expression as having to have the same agendas as their activism for that artistic expression to be valid. What qualifies someone to claim the right to decide what is good and what is not good for a society... In this case which films are not good for the people of the Cape Flats?
Geewiz... There are people on and from the Cape Flats whose life purpose and whole existence is to entertain for the sake of entertainment or for them to make up stories because stories need to be told or because they themselves are at the center of a true life story and they need to tell it. Why should they be expected to have their form of artistic expression be validated against the parameters of sociopolitical activism and other inter-sectional causes? These people exist so that some of us can be entertained. So now for some it may probably seem that I only care about being entertained, but it is also important to me that we not only look at a film's entertainment value but also at its Societal Impact. The question however remains... By whose standards do we measure the Societal Impact of a movie?
Ja ons is moeg daarvan om net stories te sien van nommeskap en gêngsterism... Ja dit lyk asof die mense wie movies oor crime oppie Cape Flats fund nie belangstel in feel-good stories van ons mense se awesome successes nie... There are times when I agree with the above statements, however we cannot be so narrow minded and have tunnel vision resulting in us shooting down every film that includes or even has its basis in crime.
To me personally though, every story or film I watch about crime does not necessarily glorify crime. In fact, stories and films about crime almost always end with the bad guys losing and with someone rising up and out into living a good life. Every film about crime on the Cape Flats can not possibly be willfully intended to exploit the pain of our mothers who lose their sons in gang wars or the pain of our sisters and our children who are raped and murdered by violent criminals from within our own communities.
Of course the habitual stereotyping of the "Coloured Experience" is something which our communities who, with even our own perceptions of our identity always in flux, are constantly grappling with. All of us want to see growth and positive change in our communities so we rightfully remain wary of not making wrong choices like supporting films that undermine our collective well-being. That includes me too... Yet part of that growth and positive change needs to also happen for and by people from our communities who work in the film industry. Growth and positive change of course has never happened without a good measure of adversity...
En so is dit dat even vir 'n great feel-good story enige plek in die wêreld, moet daar a mate van adversity vir die main character wees. Iets moet die main character se lewe moeilik maak; hulle moet iets het om oor te triomfeer en vir iemand rede te gee om genoeg in die storie te glo dat hulle sal invest in die production van die film.
Wat maak onse lewens moeilik op die Cape Flats?
Wat is een van ons kinders se grootste adversities besides dat ons in ‘n system vasgevang is which from day one stacks the odds against us?
What is the biggest symptom of us being dumped into ghetto concentration camps created by Apartheid’s Group Areas Act?
As ek 'n fictional movie sou maak oor 'n laaitie vannie Elsies se flêtse waar hy tussen gangsters bly en hy word 'n world famous saxophone player... Hoe wys ek dat hy getriomfeer het nadat die gansters al hoeveel keer getry het om hom in te trek?
Nou die gangsters pla hom mos sy hele lewe lank en dit is deel van hom lewensverhaal maar iemand se maag gaan pyn omdat my movie wys van hoe die gangsters sy neef skiet toe die neef wil keer dat hulle die laaitie se saxophone afvat.
Ek moet ook seker nie wys dat terwyl hy oefen innie lounge vannie flêt, dat die bullet deur die venhster verby hom linkeroor fluit nie... Ek moet seker ook nie wys dat hy self amper oek 'n nomme geraak het nie want dan hoe gaan ek wys dat hulle hom die illusion wou gee dat dit kwaai is om 'n gangster te wies?
...maar OK, as my script kwaai is en ek kry miskien vir kykNET en ouens soos Gambit Films om daarin belang te stel dan moet ek nog eers ook worry ook dat die nca fictional storie van my wat op die big screen vertel gaan word 'n paar activists wie scramble for causes so bietjie maagkrampe gaan kry... Dis mos after all omdat dit White Man's Capital is wat my movie gaan fund en apparently fund hulle dit net omdat WMC 'n master plan agenda het om met die fictional storie van ‘n laaitie wat 'n fictional world famous saxophone player geword het ons mense se pain te exploit.
Yassis!!! Ons kan wraggies nie eendag sit met 'n situation waar elke script writer uit ons gemeenskap en selfs mense wie novels skryf eers 'n 'consultative process' moet hou om activists se maagkrampies te vermy nie...
Now well... My script is klaar geskryf so heel eerstens moet ek gou 'n basic business begrip aanleer... Return On Investment... Films maak is deel van die vermaaklikheidsbedryf. Die 'bedryf' deel van die woord beteken dis 'n besigheid en as jy 'n script het wat so goed is dat dit lyk na iets wat die koste van jou film terug gaan maak en 'n wins gaan maak by die box-office dan gaan iemand hopelik tyd, energie en geld invest om jou script tot in 'n movie te maak, solank as wat jy 'n dekselse goeie script het.
Nou as jy volgens jou 'n goeie script het en film companies wil nie daaraan raak nie, of jy het 'n briljante idea vir 'n Documentary maar jy kort geld, dan is daar ook Government Departments en verskillende Private Institutes wat jou kan help fund... Of jy maak soos Nadine Cloete, die vervaardiger wie haar film Action Kommandant die lig laat sien het met Crowd-funding.
Jinne, jy’t 'n storie om te vertel en die publishers wil nie jou boek druk nie... Self-fund of crowd-fund die printing of wat de hel... Sit dit uit as 'n e-book. Dêmmit gee die blêrrie ding verniet weg as jy moet, als net om jou storie daar buite te kry.
As die film companies nie van jou script hou nie, sit die storie op die planke by jou community theatre saam die community drama group... Create jou eie venue en jou eie set as jy moet. Film die ding met jou android foon... Sit dit op Youtube. Begin werk aan jou next script... Rinse... Repeat... Miskien sien a film company die ding raak.
Elke storie wat geskryf word gaan nie by Nu Metro en SterKinekor speel nie, en in plaas van gal braak oor films wat wel gemaak word en gewys word, kry maniere om die stories te vertel waarin jy glo.
You don't see people from our communities who successfully make Indy films complain about what ends up in mainstream. They do their thing and yet often times their Indy productions end up at International Film Festivals, because you know why? They simply concentrate on finding ways to tell the stories they want to tell.
Mense vertel nie net stories en film companies maak nie net movies omdat hulle 'n agenda het om ons Khoe se kinders te exploit en verder te verwoes nie.
Van ons mense maak ook nie net films slegs omdat hulle goody-two-shoes is wie ons society op wil bou met positive stories nie...
Baie keer is dit so heel eenvoudig dat mense stories vertel net omdat daar binne in hul wesens stories is om te vertel. Ons Boesman voorouers het op rotse geverf omdat daar stories was om te vertel. Hulle het om die vuur gesit en stories vertel en danse opgevoer omdat daar stories was om te vertel.
How with this preconceived bias are we going to actually appreciate the effort that goes into telling stories that could possibly also be your stories or mine? ...or as in the case of Nommer 37, a fictional bizarre concoction of circumstances coming together to create a riveting and fast paced crime thriller... Much like any other really good crime thriller should do anywhere else in the world?
Then there are also stories deeply rooted in truth, so how on earth do we justify opposing our own people for telling their personal stories to the world when they have the opportunity to turn their story into a film just because we believe that WMC funded it with an agenda?
It is patently obvious that when John W Fredericks wrote his script for Noem My Skollie it was His Own Personal Story and someone saw the script as a great story to invest in and turn into a film. I am pretty sure John W Fredericks did not covertly sit and plot a way to “exploit the pain of our communities” when he wrote his script. He was telling a story because there was a story to be told. He had his own personal pain and his own personal triumphs and he told people his story. When you approach his film with preconceived negativity then you are basically saying "Die uncle moet hom bek gehou het en hom storie vir homself gehou het."
Click on the Image below to read our article about the Premiere of Noem my Skollie at Pollsmoor Prison
Hopefully at the very least the people who are adamant about "not supporting" the film because they see it as exploitative will be willing to discuss what they believe about how films should be made. Hopefully they are willing and able to rationalise in a constructive manner to explain what kind of films they believe should be made.
They should also be willing to justify the exclusion of those writers and storytellers whose imaginative fictional creations reflects the often times violent realities of the society we live in, even when they do it in a way that does not glorify gangsterism or violence. Should people who create fiction start limiting or shutting down their own imaginations?
It is perhaps now more important than ever that besides that we support the sensible story-telling of our many times nasty realities in ways that document those nasty realities with the intent of bringing healing, that we also support the telling of those fictional stories which have a high level of imaginative creativity.
Seriously it is like our self-appointed "guardians against the exploitation of our collective pain" only want us to watch documentaries and movies which they in their wisdom pre-approve. Dammit! I want riveting fiction with some action and grit to it and that has some basis in the reality we live in but also stories that can run away with my imagination just like Nommer 37 did.
By the way... Why are still too many of our true stories of human triumph from within our communities mostly told in a stodgy documentary format? For the local film industry to grow, our stories of human triumph need to be dramatised and even embellished a little bit... This is how larger audiences then get exposed to true stories of human triumph albeit embellished... Much like Noem My Skollie is a dramatised true story about gangsterism but more importantly about Human Triumph.
Nommer 37 is of course completely fictional and is not anywhere near what a conventional story of human triumph is about. The story is however important because in my opinion it encourages the idea that film-making on the Cape Flats needs a healthy dose of genuine fiction and that of course does not have to come in the form of a crime thriller each and every time but... Besides reflecting our realities we also need stories which stretch reality and test the limits of our writers, directors, actors and visual artists.
Among the few professional actors I personally know, most of them have studied drama and are working hard at building careers and all of them want roles that constantly challenge their abilities ensuring that they grow in their craft so that they can get better opportunities in their careers. Anders kan die kind mos maar acting school uitlos en permanently in Shoprite gaan sakkies pak...
I do not simply just want to encourage people to go out and watch the movie for the mere fact that it is local and that it puts bread on the table for local actors and others working in the film industry... I genuinely do not want you to miss out on the thrill of it all. Purely from an entertainment point of view is Nommer 37 rêrag 'n kwaai film.
Nommer 37 opens at SterKinekor Theaters across the country on Friday 1 June 2018.
It is important that we keep alive this conversation of the Sociatal Impact which movies have so that we can unpack these issues but... If you want to criticise the movie, then please first make a plan to go see #Nommer37... If afterwards you still feel that it is exploitative of our collective pain... then by all means Dala Wat Jy Moet.