Dir. Sibs Shongwe La-Mer
Official Selection International Feature: South Africa
The Richter Scale says: I don’t know if filmmakers of a certain age realice how ironic it is when their doing a film that critiques their own generation, particularly this generation that usually feels like it’s above everything (and yes, writing a review is putting yourself above something, I get the irony of writing that here). Sibs Shongwe La-Mer, who is only 23 years old, makes his feature directorial debut with this film that explores a generations of youths in South Africa, all looking for meaning in life following a friend’s live-streamed suicide. And of course, suicides have always been a way to call attention to ourselves and nowadays we have the Internet as a means to do that every day, so people use it.
One of the film’s greatest strength and the reason it’s fun to watch (despite a certain monotony in its aesthetic and tone) is the eclectic mix of characters that inhabit it, each and every one of them specific to the Johannesburg suburb they inhabit. The director himself plays September. He and his best friend Jabz are a couple of disillusioned Zulu youths roaming through their neighborhood looking for answers (one of them dated the girl who just killed herself). Rafi and Tali are a couple of Jewish sisters who keep looking for ways to have fun, which includes experimenting with women and black men. Nikki has a very bleak view of life and considers what might drive someone to suicide. Emily is the girl who killed herself and there’s a framing device in the film where all these youths are being interviewed about their relationships to Emily and what they think might have driven her to suicide (of course, many of them barely even knew her and couldn’t care less).
The film is shot in black and White, which is common for independent filmmakers nowadays when they try to explore a certain sorrow within their subject matter. The conversations among these characters range from superficial things, like where to get drugs or who to sleep with, to things that intend to be profound, particularly this one where one youth contemplates what it would be like to carry the Internet in your hand, since you can probably fill a whole life in there and it doesn’t mean much anymore.
This film will screen today at 7:00 pm at Cinemex Plaza las Luciérnagas and at Guanajuato City on Friday, July 24 at noon at the Auditorium at the University of Guanajuato.
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