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PAFF 2015 Preview: Ensemble Crime Drama ‘Four Corners’ (South Africa’s 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Entry)

PAFF 2015 Preview: Ensemble Crime Drama 'Four Corners' (South Africa's 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Entry)

Scheduled to screen at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, which kicks off tomorrow, February 5, and runs through the 16th, is a crime drama that was South Africa’s contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award last year (although it didn’t make the final cut), titled “The Four Corners” – ‘Die Vier Hoeke,’ which is South African prison slang for the four corners of a prison cell.

Director Ian Gabriel’s gang-lands coming of age thriller centers on a 13-year-old chess prodigy who’s drawn into Cape Town’s “notorious child-gang culture.” His absent father, recently released from prison, tries to break the pattern of violence and keep his son away from the aforementioned Four Corners. 

More…: “Fatherless and brought up by his granny, Faita, his gift for playing chess and his involvement with feisty girlfriend, compete with the street gangs in offering him a surrogate home. He is drawn into the world of the gangs by a 22-year-old American gang boss, who first bullies him into gambling for money on a chess match, then pressures him into taking part in a theft to prove his worthiness as gang material. Meanwhile a detective is conducting an ongoing investigation into the disappearance and abduction of young boys connected by family and association to a rival gang. The community lives in fear on the streets as dirty money, weapons and juvenile gangs overwhelm the area, as some find themselves torn between rebuilding the community, relationships and family, and answering the call for revenge.”

The ambitious screenplay is based on an original idea by Ian Gabriel and Hofmeyr Scholtz, who both worked on developing it over many years. It has over 60 speaking parts and several intersecting stories, an “epic low budget” South African film, cast with a combo of veteran, beginner and non-actors, drawn from schools and communities across the Cape Flats.

The filmmaker previously said that, part of his objective in making “Four Corners” was to create training and opportunities for sustainable filmmaking and film storytelling in the Flats. Not only were many of the actors recruited from the community the film was shot in, but so were crew members who were trained, and will continue to work in film in the future, using what they’ve learned.

Comparisons were made to “City Of God,” itself with several characters, and an ambitious, low-budget (compared to Hollywood movies anyway) epic-style production. 

Ian Gabriel’s last work, “Forgiveness,” was an African Voices selection for the 10 Best African Films of the past decade, 2 years ago. 

“Four Corners,” which never received a USA release (it’s only screened at 2 North American film festivals), screens at the Pan African Film Festival in LA on Tuesday, February 10 @ 9:00pm; Friday, February 13 @ 6:30pm; and Sunday, February 15 @ 10:05pm. Click here for more info.

Trailer below:

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