A kind of war

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.

A doctor’s purpose …

I had an operation a few months ago. It was my first real medical adventure (and hopefully my last) and I was very very lucky. I had a complicated hernia, which had developed over the past 18 months, and it finally got sorted out by a brilliant and caring surgeon. I spent 4 days in hospital and had time to think about life, and purpose.

Purpose is a word I have embraced intensely for most of my working life. My doctor’s purpose was very clear: he had to fix me. And he did.

I am relieved the worst is over now, and hopefully soon I will be fully recovered. I am extremely grateful to this doctor – it was the first time in my life that I was truly scared.

This doctor, a gastro-surgeon, has such a hectic schedule from what I can see. I doubt I would ever have the privilege to spend more time with him, and get to know him better. And yet, for me, in this challenging time of my life, he played such an important role. This got me thinking: is purpose the same thing as importance.

This doctor’s purpose is clear. He helps people medically. He fixes them. To me, and to the others he is helping, it is important. But what about other people who play different roles in our lives. Is their purpose also important?

I don’t often get a cold or the flu. When I do, I go and see our family GP and he sometimes he may prescribe antibiotics. And yes, we are happy when the flu goes away, and of course, we are grateful to the family doctor for helping to get us better. But the stakes are not as high compared to going in for an intense operation in a hospital. And for this reason I am wondering about purpose and importance. Perhaps I am just emotional, because it was a nerve wrecking experience, and perhaps a few more months from now I won’t think about it much more.

Do we have to be on the edge, in a life threatening situation to understand purpose, and its importance, or, are we simply all too busy in this fast paced world, to recognize and celebrate all those around us who have had a purpose in our lives. Like a school teacher, for example. Or a plumber, in that time of emergency. Or an IT support guy, that helps you, when you are on a deadline, and gremlins come give you grey hairs.

In my hospital ward, I shared a room with a young man who was a teacher. And I started thinking about teachers, and how they play an important role in shaping our views on the world. An inspired teacher could encourage us to be brave and bold, and that could lead to magic in the world. I have had people believe in me in my life, some teachers, some mentors, some friends, some family, and this has all helped me to do what I do. Yes, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. Their belief in me, and their guidance, often gives me additional strength and confidence.

A doctor’s purpose is indeed important, especially when your life is on the line. But what about the soul? Living like a zombie is not what life is about. Our souls are often in crises, when we are feeling down and can’t see the wood from the trees. Sometimes it is just exhaustion and other times we need some inspiration. Or a confidence booster. Or simply, some help. Whatever the reasons for our struggle, there are other crises that may not threaten our physical life, but can be pounding away at our soul.

Have you ever just had a night out with some friends and gone “Now that was good for the soul. Just what the doctor ordered.” Exactly.

I am extremely grateful to the surgeon who recently fixed me up. And I am also grateful to all of those in my life who have inspired me to grow, and for those who have believed in me.

I’ve been around, ya know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these. Their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There’s no prosthetic for that.“ – Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman)

Are you paying attention ?

Imagine if you email out a document to your team and ask them to read it. How do you know if they have even looked at the file. One way to get an indication is by embedding a token in the document. When the file is opened, you get a notification. And what happens if someone not in your team opens this file. That could be a problem. Perhaps documents (data) are leaking out of your organization.

This is the idea behind Canary Tokens. Very smart micro level traps. Think of them as granular trip wires. There are so many creative uses for these simple and effective triggers. You tokenize a file and if someone opens it, you receive a notification, with perhaps the source IP address.

Have a look at this old article the brilliant Haroon Meer shared with me. This is an example of a token in the analogue world. Compelling story this … smart stuff.

There’s a brilliant reason why Van Halen asked for a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown candies removed before every show

https://www.thisisinsider.com/van-halen-brown-m-ms-contract-2016-9

Weekend #5 – Matwetwe

We have made it to the 5th weekend and that in itself is good. And what is great is that the cinema footprint grew from week 1 to week 2 and then it again in week 3 and also in week 4. Now, on the start of weekend number 5 the footprint has been reduced, by 3 sites. At the time of writing this the current box office is around 4.8 million Rands, and we estimate the film will do close to 7 mil. over its cinema run. That would be a fantastic result.

Nowhere else are the laws of supply and demand as evident than with the cinema business. A movie, if it is lucky enough to get a theatrical release, then starts the weekly nail biting test of whether or not it stays on circuit, and if it does, what happens to the weekly cinema footprint. Every Monday, around the world, the cinemas chains in each country tally up the weekend’s box office, and work with the film distributors to decide on what stays on, and what comes off. There are new movies coming out every Friday, so screen time is always a limited resource. There really isn’t much for them to decide as the numbers say it all. The top earning films stay on, and the poor performers come off circuit to make way for new titles. It is brutal and it is very straight forward. If there is demand then the cinemas will supply. And if not, you are history. There are never any second chances.

This weekend is pay-day for many so we should see a boost in the cinema attendances for all movies. We also had a very cool shout-out on Twitter this week from the minister of arts and culture, and lots of new compliments from cinema goers. There has been a non-stop Twitter stream of positive energy since the film’s release. It has been good for the soul. The word-of-mouth has certainly been strong and consistent. All of this has contributed to the film’s fantastic cinema journey thus far. Hopefully, as we go into the 5th weekend on circuit the attendances will be strong again.

There are about 10 sites in our cinema footprint that are constantly busy, and we expect, that as the footprint starts to reduce now, with each passing week, that that these key sites will demonstrate longevity. It could be that the film plays on these key sites for quite some time. Again, as long as there is demand, the cinemas will supply.

Weekend number 5 is about to begin – bring it on !!!

The best medicine

I don’t know about you, but I am not in the best physical shape. I need to exercise more, stress less, sleep a bit longer each night, and I definitely should slow down a bit. I think the pace of the world is in overdrive. No one ever seems to have time.

Luckily, with this unhealthy lifestyle I seem to be ok (well for the first 50 years), physically speaking that is (not sure about my tired grey matter). But occasionally I do get the flu. Not often. Like once every few years or so, and it never lasts more than a day or two. When I do feel the flu coming on a visit to the doctor is generally a good move, and I have a cool GP, so it is fun to see him every few years. He makes a lot of jokes, and we laugh a lot, and he tells me how lucky I am to be in good health. Yeah, right.

Since turning 50 I have had a few things that have started acting up. I got a right knee that makes a crunching sound when I bend down, and a sore right shoulder that I am told is a bit of arthritis, and some other minor aches and pains. The doc says it is wear and tear. And yes, he also says that I need to exercise more and eat better, etc. If I want to be in a safe state of mind and body I better get with the program. I am painfully aware of this of late.

What I am also discovering is that there are so many kinds of doctors. My GP is just the starting point. Each part of the body has a specialist doctor. And also, there are so many different kinds of medicines, for every part of the body, and for every different ailment. I read online that the pharmaceutical industry in the US is approaching 20% of the American GDP. Yup, medicine is big business.

Now, imagine if all these different medicine manufacturers had to start calling me, and sending me marketing materials. That would be overwhelming. What would you do? You would call your doctor, and he would probably tell you to turn off your phone, and stop reading your email. We trust our doctor to advise us. That is what staying safe is all about. If we had to buy every medicine that was marketed to us, it would cost us a fortune, and we would most probably be no better off. In fact, taking the wrong medicine can be bad for you.

Your doctor’s role is to understand what the real problem is, and by giving you an accurate diagnosis you also get some peace of mind. Being bombarded by pharmaceutical marketing can’t be good for one’s health, excuse the pun.

What I am saying seems obvious, and I am sure you are with me. Now, let’s talk about something else that also requires well-being: your IT infrastructure. Like your body, you have to look after your computer systems, and this sometimes needs to be diagnosed and fixed. In this day and age of big data, making sure our servers are secure is no laughing matter.

If you are worried about the state of your cyber security then join the club. With over 74% of all threats coming from the inside (look this up on Google) and with data privacy laws coming into play, there is a lot to be concerned about. There are “doctors” that can help. Consultants and specialists that can assess your infrastructure, and architect a solution, with affordable and appropriate medicine, that keeps your IT healthy.

Have a check up. Just like you would do for your body. Being proactive and having a medical examination every few years is a smart thing to do. The same with your IT infrastructure. Understand where the real threats and dangers are, and deal with it appropriately.

When it comes to cyber security there are vendors calling and marketing to you all the time. There is so much IT medicine on the market that it is confusing to say the least.

Speak to your IT doctor – there are some good ones around and they are there to help you.