Here is some background on a documentary film project that we started working on this month. I imagine it will keep us busy for a big part of 2020.
Matwetwe, a coming-of-age adventure set in the iconic township of Atteridgeville, was released on the 25th January 2019. It pulled in an impressive R 980 762 within its first three days of release. It went on to make another million in the next 5 days. On Friday the 1st March, Matwetwe’s lead actor Sibusiso Khwinana was stabbed to death in Pretoria – over a cellphone.
Our feature-length documentary will be centered around the violent and relentless crime we as South Africans face on a daily basis. It’s a monstrous enemy; an enemy that has no preference in terms of age, gender, race or social standing; that attacks all walks of life. Sibusiso’s tragic passing will not only provide the emotional preface for the first act, it will be a thread that we will intermittently reference through the course of the feature.
Statistics suggest a state that is closer to a war zone than a country with a civilian crime issue. That said, we are not looking to create a shock-driven, investigative journalism-styled exposé. Rather we want to focus more on the state of our nation’s internal spirit and ways in which we can steer our country toward a more positive and hopeful destiny. This will be a contemporary, modern and refreshing look at who we really are as South Africans; our individual and communal identities, and how together we can look at real and pragmatic solutions in facing this common enemy.
This documentary aims to open a conversation, unearth insights, and hopefully begin to demystify the madness that is currently consuming and suffocating our nation. In order to forge a way forward, we will need to unpack our past, dissect our present, and light a path toward our future. To do this, we will need to hear from historians, head of crime fighting units, politicians, psychologists, violent crime cleaning services, down-on-the-ground crime counselors and, of course, from the people of our nation who have suffered at the hands of this merciless enemy. We will track stories, trace socio-historical influences and attempt to understand the mechanics behind the atrocities. We will listen to victims who have forgiven their attackers, and to those who have not. We will hear testimonies from the criminals themselves. And through it all, we will relentlessly hunt for solutions… Maybe, just maybe, significant insights will bubble to the surface – insights that will at least help build a foundation of understanding, that could in turn lead to a potential counter strategy.
We suspect that the reasons for the chronic levels of crime in our country are far more complex and layered than what we think we know; and that the solutions many of us currently believe would make a difference are desperately outmoded. Solutions like “we need more policing”. Our chequered, convoluted and unique history as a country demands a far more multi-pronged solutions strategy. Solutions that we need to unite on, construct together and, at the very least, talk about. And that we need to talk about now.
Returning sporadically to the narrative heartline of Sibusiso’s passing, we will continue bringing the story back from the macro to the micro, from the nation to the individual. Through the testimonials of his colleagues, friends and family, we hope to uncover how the aftermath of such a tragedy has had such devastating and far-reaching impact on the lives of those closest to him; how the passion and spirit of a young man at the cusp of realising his dream could be so senselessly ended, and the ripple effect that this cruel metamorphosis of dream-to-nightmare has had on those around him. It’s a film that we hope will help turn depression into hope, suffocation into inspiration, victimisation into empowerment.