Hitchcock on the Cape Flats


One of the big winners among the short films entered into this year’s Silwerskerm
Film Festival, held from 27 to 30 August at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, Cape Town,
was a well-crafted little thriller called Nommer 37 (Number 37) produced by Gambit

The film took two awards out of its five nominations – one for best script and the
other for best director. The awards went to three young AFDA graduates who are
now among the main creatives for Gambit Films – Daryne Joshua, who won the
script accolade, and Travis Taute and Nosipho Dumisa, the co-directors of the film.

Paying homage to the Hitchcock classic Rear Window, Nommer 37 tells the story of
Randal (Irshaad Ally), a career criminal recently crippled by an injury sustained
during a shady deal gone horribly wrong. Wheelchair-bound and cooped up in his
apartment in a rough Cape Town neighbourhood, with no-one to support him except
his devoted girlfriend Pam (Shamilla Miller), Randal is heavily indebted to a ruthless
loan shark. With no way of paying the money back, he despairs for himself and
Pam. However the gift of a pair of binoculars enables him to watch the shady
comings and goings in the apartments across from his, which present him with an
opportunity to get his hands on the money he so desperately needs – but at great

Joshua had been keeping the concept on the back burner for quite some time when
the call came from kykNet to pitch a short film project. “Rear Window is one of my
favourite films,’ he says. “In combination with that I grew up on the Cape Flats and
always wished I could do our own version of Rear Window, in a Cape Flats setting
with characters I knew and grew up with.’

Although the concept was actually intended for a feature film, Joshua, Dumisa and
Taute felt strongly that it would be the best option for the kykNet brief.

Interestingly, Dumisa and Taute opted to direct the movie together – an unusual
choice in a profession for which monomania is often regarded as a virtue – although
there are some precedents throughout the history of the form, for collaborative

“We both knew that we had to agree completely on the vision for the film,’ Taute
says. “We discussed it and said that if we were going to do this, then we had better
get any disagreements out of the way in pre-production. So we hashed everything
out, we went over every small detail, we debated the hows and whys. We both
wanted the same thing even if we were coming at it from different angles.’

Dumisa adds: “Yes, the decision making process of directing is usually a solitary
thing but for us as Gambit, we have always collaborated. Everything we do comes
down to what we decide together. It was also very good for us to bounce our ideas
off each other and challenge each other’s decisions. We had to explain, justify and
talk through all of our decisions and that made for a better film.’

DOP Zenn van Zyl shot the picture on an Arri Alexa, the large-sensored beauty that
is rapidly becoming the standard for film crews wanting to get as close to a filmic
look as possible. Gambit Films’ post-production supervisor Simon Beesley did the
editing honours, while producer Benjamin Overmeyer took charge of the production.
Combined with strong performances, the efforts of the crew resulted in a polished
and entertaining final product.

One does feel, however, that the story would be better suited to long form. The
slow development necessary to build tension, as per Rear Window, is lacking in the
highly compact story. Of course, this was the plan all along and thanks to the
attention the festival brought to the film, plans are now underway to create a
feature length version of the story, set to go into production in 2015.

On the festival and the platform it provides, Joshua says: “A lot of my stories are
based on the Cape Flats and the only way you can really tell those stories is in
Afrikaans. Otherwise it loses authenticity – the language is so closely linked to the
culture. There is not enough exposure for Afrikaans films about life on the Cape
Flats and that’s a shame because there are some really great stories there.
Silwerskermfees is a fantastic platform on which we can bring our stories to the


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