Down so long, an offbeat comedy-drama in the social realism film style and set in the impoverished informal settlement of Hangberg in the Western Cape, forms part of the Joburg Film Festival’s impressive line-up. This unique South African feature film will be screened at The Bioscope in Milpark on Saturday, 4 February, at 19:00.
Produced and directed by Angie Mills and Damir Radonic from Out of Motion Films, Down so long draws attention to the socio-political conditions that engulf the Hangberg community via the highly-entertaining story of Joe Mabena, a heavy-drinking factory worker who loses an eye during a workplace incident.
A generous payout from Mabena’s employers is supposed to let the problem go away, but his life turns chaotic when his extended family, all living under the same roof, see the windfall as a means to enrich themselves. However, Mabena, not moved by their false affections, is adamant about not parting with his hard-earned money. Little does he know that his plans with the cash might cost him his life.
Down so long was inspired by the Italian film Brutti, sporchi e cattivi (Ugly, dirty and bad) by Ettore Scola, which won the Prix de la Mise en scene at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. With their authentically South African adaptation of this seminal satirical piece, Down so long filmmakers Radonic and Mills bring a local “invisible community” to the fore, which they highlight with an unusual cast and filming techniques.
The film features two professional actors only. SAFTA winner Tshamano Sebe delivers a powerhouse performance as protagonist Joe Mabena and poet and actress Khadija Heeger gives him a run for his money as his wife, Doreen. The remainder of the cast are all members of the Hangberg community.
“Down so long ultimately is a social justice social justice film; a film about the downtrodden, the poor, who show resilience and agency in the daily toil of survival,” Radonic and Mills explain the significance of the film. “This had an impact on how we approached the filmmaking process and involved the community throughout.”
Apart from the casting, the Down so long producers worked with different constituencies in the Hangberg community to secure locations, location management, security and services on the ground. To heighten the realistic feel of the film, they employed techniques often used in social realism films, such as using a skeleton crew, natural light, compact camera gear and a lens that allows a depth of field.
Following the screening of Down so long at Maponya Mall and The Bioscope, Mills and Radonic will share more details about their approach with film students and film aficionados during a special Q&A session.
Down so long is Angie Mills and Damir Radonic’s second feature film, following Taka Takata starring big-name South African personalities Kagiso Lediga and Anela Madoda and international superstar Trevor Noah. Out of Motion’s next venture is another comedy with the working title Dead End, due for production in 2023.
Tickets for the Down so long screening at Maponya Mall can be bought on the Ster Kinekor website or at the movie theatre, while the tickets for The Bioscope are available on Quicket or at the door. For more information about the festival, go to joburgfilmfestival.co.za.
Down so long, a Showmax Original in association with M-Net Movies and the NFVF, enjoyed its South African premiere at the 2022 kykNET Silwerskerm Film Festival.