The Billy Monk Story: The true story of 60’s Cape Town icon and master photographer


The story of hard-living nightclub bouncer, Billy Monk, who became a celebrated photographer and was gunned down on route to his first exhibition, is coming to the big screen – shooting end 2019.

Billy was a larger-than-life character – diamond-diver, Woolworth’s model, safe-cracker, lobster fisherman, womanizer, nightclub bouncer and photographer extraordinaire. He and his mixed-race wife and children lived across the colour-bar in Apartheid South Africa, and Billy’s love of black jazz drove him into frequent clashes with the law. His tragic, violent end on the way to the first major exhibition of his work is a poignant counterpoint to his passionate life. Missed and mourned, his photographs of The Catacombs live on, showing life on the margins in the rough, dock-side club – the gays, the inter-racial couples, the prostitutes, the trans-sexuals, pimps and sailors.

This was a life lived in the shadows, and Billy Monk captured it.

The creative team behind the picture is director Michael Oblowitz, ex-Capetonian award-winning film maker who divides his time between SA and Los Angeles; producer David Pupkewitz, veteran producer ex-London now based back in South Africa; and writer Malcolm Kohll, returnee ex-Londoner, living in Cape Town.

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Chanelle Ellaya
Chanelle Ellaya is the editor of Screen Africa. She completed her BA Journalism degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2011. While writing is her passion, she has a keen interest in the media in various capacities. Chanelle is an avid social media networker and a firm believer in the power of social and online networking. Between writing and tweeting, she finds time to feed her love for live music.


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