Crime thriller State of Violence, written and directed by award winning director Khalo Matabane, opens countrywide on 28 October. Matabane’s previous work includes the miniseries When We Were Black and the experimental film Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon.
State of Violence is set in Johannesburg and is a portrait of a man caught between ideology and family ties.
It tells the story of Bobedi, the newly appointed CEO of a large mining company. On the night he and his wife Joy are celebrating his success, she is murdered in a seemingly random act of violence. Frustrated by the pace of justice, Bobedi decides that revenge is his only option. But when he catches the murderer, he comes face to face with a terrible secret that connects the two men across time and history.
The lead is played by Fana Mokoena, best known for his roles in the television series Yizo Yizo, Generations and The Lab. His biggest film role to date is the supporting role of General Bizimingu in the 2004 film, Hotel Rwanda (directed by Terry George). Mokoena has also had supporting roles in films such as Blood Diamond (directed by Edward Zwick), and Dangerous Grounds and Jump the Gun.
“It has been very exciting to work with actors who are migrating from small to big screen roles,’ says Matabane. “Fana was the perfect choice to play Bobedi, a man who decides to reinvent himself. He is successful at it and becomes wealthy. For him, the past is dead and he is a new man in a new country. But what he does not count on, is that people live with scars in their hearts which cannot easily be eradicated.’
Also starring in the film is Presley Chweneyagae, best known for his starring role in the film Tsotsi, which won the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards. Chweneyagae has acted in many stage productions and made his television acting debut in 2000 in Orlando for SABC TV. He has worked with Matabane before, and was cast as The Poet in the 2006 miniseries When We Were Black. He returns to the big screen as Boy-Boy, a vulnerable young man who lives with his mother in a backyard room in the township. He has a son, and family is important to him.
“He questions his brother’s values,’ says Matabane. “What’s interesting about Boy-Boy is that he is a sensitive young man, the opposite of his brother Bobedi. He challenges the stereotype of the scary township dude.’
Matabane says the film was in many ways a collaborative effort. “There was a lot of freedom on set, and it was largely because of Presley’s strong performance as Bobedi’s brother that the theme of family dynamics really came to the fore.’
Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film in South Africa, says Matabane’s unique vision has resulted in a film that does not judge or offer moral solutions but rather intends to provoke the audience and leave them to make up their own minds about the impact of violence on identity. “Shot in 30 days, the film contrasts the harsh differences between two worlds – the poverty in which Bobedi grew up and the wealth of the area he lives in as an adult who has denied his past.’
Other well-known names in the ensemble cast include veteran actress Mary Twala, Vusi Kunene, Lindi Matshikiza, Tinah Mnumzana, Harriet Manamela, Motlatse Mafatshe and Neo Ntlatleng.