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Four Corners ("Die Vier Hoeke")

Quebec Premiere
  • South Africa
  • 2013
  • 114 mins
  • DCP
  • Sabela / Afrikaans / English (subtitles)
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“Enticing, if brutal... must-see viewing” - Gayle Edmunds, CITY PRESS

Americans have their Bloods and Crips. Well, in South Africa, they have “the Numbers”. The various gangs are divided into three clans, namely, 26, 27, and 28. Feuding between clans has been ongoing for over 100 years, filling South African prisons with its affiliates. Dangerous it is to walk down the streets of Cape Flats sporting the wrong kind of ink.

It is within this dangerous and violent universe that FOUR CORNERS takes place. It bears many similarities to CITY OF GOD — the shantytowns, rampant crime and violence of these gang-governed neighbourhoods all pierce the screen. Making use of local culture, language and diversity for which the region is known, Ian Gabriel has directed a crime drama that is anchored in its characters’ brutal reality. In fact, it’s the first film to employ the Sabela dialect, the gangs’ secret language. Ian decided to shoot his picture in locations where the media or even the authorities aren’t allowed to tread. We mainly follow 13-year-old Ricardo (Jezriel Skei), a chess prodigy who must, day after day, rely on ruse and trickery to lead a normal life in 26-governed territory. He will eventually cross paths with three other characters: Farakhan (Brandon Daniels), a retired high-level member of the 28 who is trying to go straight; Leila (Lindiwe Matshikiza), a young British doctor returning to the country to help plan the succession of her father’s estate; and Tito (Adburagman Adams), a detective desperate to capture a serial killer.

Gabriel takes these characters and delivers a social message filled with hope. The tale is transposed to the screen by not only sublime performances of these fine actors, but also by the reality that follows them all. While our four thespians are all professionals, the same can’t be said for the rest of the cast. A large majority of them are ex-gang members selected within the scope of the Victory Outreach program, an organisation that helps find youth a way out of the world of gangs and drugs. It’s the first cinematic experience for all the teens involved, including the leading man, Jezriel Skei. Gabriel has put together a magnificently shot motion picture filled with breathtaking realism, making us discover a corner of the world of which know very little. The hardness of certain images is contrasted with moments of pure beauty. Its naturalistic approach ultimately shows us a slice of life that you won’t soon forget.

— Éric S. Boisvert