South African film Confessions of a Gambler earned a rave review in Hollywood insider publication Variety. Reviewer Alissa Simon wrote, “This gripping story of addiction and faith, set in Cape Town’s working-class Malay Muslim community, should develop new fans for Rayda Jacobs, who not only adapted her own novel but also co-directs and stars, creating a sympathetic heroine who’s deeply spiritual yet profoundly fallible.’
It was also tipped as a Critic’s Choice for December’s Dubai International Film Festival. The Gulf Today newspaper also responded favourably: “Rayda Jacobs gives a wonderful turn as the confident, but damaged Abeeda. Rayda’s deep knowledge of her community shines through in a film that confounds stereotypes with a story of faith and love, lost and regained.’
At the Dubai festival in December, Rayda also appeared on a cross-cultural forum alongside Paulo Coelho and Danny Glover.
The film will has already been invited to screen at six local and international film festivals, before hitting local cinema screens in March.
Confessions of a Gambler tells the story of a woman struggling with a gambling addiction, and the cast is made up of almost exclusively non-professional actors, which gives the film a real authenticity. “With a film like this, retaining the raw integrity of the story is critical,’ says producer Ross Garland (Big Fellas, U-Carmen eKhayelitsha).
Variety commented that “Jacobs’ tour-de-force turn as Abeeda is backed by convincing playing from the entire supporting cast, who portray rites of a Muslim community in almost anthropological detail. Although shot on a shoestring, the picture features some striking lensing that effectively opposes the flashy temptations of the casino with the soothing serenity of the mosque and solitary Cape Town shoreline.’
Executive producer Costa Theo (Out on a Limb, Blind Dating) identified the award-winning novel and was instrumental in securing the project and bringing the film to life, which has been made possible with the assistance of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the SABC.
Jacobs concludes that Confessions “lifts the veil on the Muslim community, and we hope to change some of the biggest myths about Muslim women with this film.’