Pure violence as basis of interaction between people in Bonteheuwel
(Editor: Ghassan Abid, Translator German-English: Serge Aka)
Violence, drugs, unemployment, jail and shot holes in walls, such is how one imagines the daily life of a community dominated by gangsters. With the documentation „Gangster Project“, the director Teboho Edkins introduces the audience to Bonteheuwel, one of the poorest and most criminal suburbs of Cape Town.
© Outtake from documentary „Gangster Project“
In January 2010, Edkins went with a cameraman to a world, where life in prison seemed nicer than that in this dreary place. Bonteheuwel, like many places in South Africa is in the hands of several gangs. Entire streets are under the control of a certain gang. In Bonteheuwel, gangs like Wonder Kids, Stupaboys, youngsters or Junior Night Pigs reign over the territories and their residents. From childhood, the inhabitants of these suburbs realized that pure violence is the only remaining option for them to survive. With bestial film sequences, like the fight of dogs, Edkins brings the viewers in an atmosphere of another South Africa beyond TV glamor.
The production was not without risk, and despite the skepticism of his own parents, the director went forward with the film production. Edkins succeeded immensely into this underworld by means of an insider, called Thurston, who made the contacts to the different collectives of the criminal milieu possible. With Macho behaviors and verbal claims to power like “We have to fight ” (to German: Wir müssen kämpfen) or “We try to protect the area” (Wir versuchen das Gebiet zu schützen), it is clear to the outsider that the social situation in Bonteheuwel can completely overturn any time and especially unexpected.
Edkins deliberately confronts the gangster with gangster-stereotypical perceptions of western life culture, according to which a gangster is for example, someone who comes with a lot of charisma in appearance. “Gangster Project” brings the audience within these 55 minutes to a total realization, that death is omnipresent.
Edkins makes clear with its documentation that the gangster existence is connected primarily with the lack of perspectives of young people, who basically have nothing to lose. The gangsters do not look – like us – in the future, but only in the present. No one wants to be a gangster, if not has to, in order to finally survive. With drug consumption such as TIK these young people try to escape their hopeless reality – even if it’s only for few hours.
Each of these protagonists ultimately illustrates the failure of the South African government, to have this problem under control. The effects of gangs remain open of course on the role of the women, who are after reports of several NGOs in many cases victims of sexual assaults by gangs. It also remains uncertain how the relationship of the gangsters to their own relatives is; and what the parents think of the criminal careers of their offspring.
„SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ recommends “Gangster Project” as impressing, thoughtfully making and frightening film about the true life of millions of South Africans, who know nothing else other than blood, violence and the fear of death.
Absolutely worth seeing!
The German review to „Gangster Project: