FILM AFRICA FESTIVAL BLOG – FOUR CORNERS REVIEW

Another feature of the South Africa @20 Freedom Tour is the urban drama FOUR CORNERS. A visceral, unflinching experience, Four Corners boasts excellent performances and innovative filmmaking technique. Get your tickets now for this Friday at Hackney Picturehouse, accompanied with the gripping short SIX.

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Feast your eyes on this review from Antony Nobrega:

Four Corners is a film directed by South African Ian Gabriel and set in the Cape Flats of South Africa. Revolving around the conflict between two gangs known as the Number Gangs – the 26 and the 28 – the film centres on four main characters; Convict and 28 gang member Farakhan (Brendon Daniels), Ricardo (Jezzriel Skei), a teenager growing up in the Flats, caught between his love of chess and the almost inescapeable lure of the gangs. Leila (Lindiwe Matshikiza), a surgeon returning home from London following the death of her estranged father and Captain Tito (Abduragman Adams), a local detective investigating the disappearance of several young boys believed to be caught up in the gang-related conflict. As the film progresses these characters and their stories begin to intertwine.

We are introduced to Farakhan within the walls of the Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison where he is a leading figure, a ‘General’ in the 28 Gang awaiting his imminent release. A fellow 28 reminds him that the custom of when you are released is that you are to kill a member of the opposing gang ‘Blood out, Blood in’. But Farakhan reveals that he no longer wants to be a part of the gang life. That does not mean that he turns his back on violence altogether. He intends to avenge his father’s murder, reclaim his home and find his son. This sets him on a course that upon his release brings him into the lives of Ricardo, Leila and Captain Tito and the Number gangs.

The atmospheric and authentic setting and the use of many different languages and dialects infuse the film with an energy that alleviates the feeling that, to a degree, the subject matter has been seen many times before. At times the tropes of many other films set in and around the gang culture such as the mentor/father figures on each side of the moral fence, the code of the streets, the young boy fighting with the pull of the gangs and the desire to follow another path are present. The strengths of the film, including the great performances across the board and the evocative camera work generally overcome this familiarity

The contained and claustrophobic nature of the film reflects that of the characters. There is no real sense of the outside world, the world outside gang life and the neighbourhoods where violence and crime are a way of life. For Farakhan, in particular, there is a sense that the only places he can live are in prison and neighbourhood in which he grew up in despite personal danger he faces and the violence and codes that exist in both. He wants no part of the gang life any longer but he will not run, he will stand his ground.

As someone who was not aware of the Number gangs, it was eye-opening to see that culture represented on film and this is the most effective part of the film. It feels as though the reality for these people is that the choices they appear to make are really not choices but what they must do and there is an acceptance that there is no real escape from the immediate world which surrounds them.

It is a well-made film with good performances and one which raises some interesting questions within the confines of finding its place within the gang genre.