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DURBAN–Sophiatown, 1958. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, as the apartheid police prepare to demolish the community at the heart of black South African cultural and intellectual life, a notorious gang leader is determined to make a last stand. Resisting the forced evictions that will transport the residents of Sophiatown to a desolate township miles away, he’s prepared to fight to the death. But when a sultry torch singer enters his violent world, he suddenly finds something worth living for.
In “Back of the Moon,” Academy Award-nominated director Angus Gibson (“Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation”) draws on film noir influences to evoke the free-wheeling, violent, cosmopolitan spirit of mid-century Sophiatown—a place that still exerts a powerful hold on the black South African conscience. Starring Richard Lukunku (“Badman”) and Moneoa Moshesh (“Eve”), the film had its world premiere at the Durban Intl. Film Festival.
Gibson - Filmmaker - TV - Dramas - Legacy
Gibson is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker who has co-created, produced or directed multiple award-winning TV dramas. He spoke to Variety about the legacy of Sophiatown in contemporary South Africa, the need for South African filmmakers to interrogate the violence they portray onscreen, and his “strange place” as a white filmmaker creating movies and TV series for a young, black audience.
You first began your creative engagement with Sophiatown more than three decades ago, with a stage play and with the documentary you made with internationally renowned artist and filmmaker William Kentridge, “Freedom Square and Back of the Moon.” What drew you to Sophiatown then, and what brought you back now?
Age - Moment - World - World - Life
I’m of an age that I was brought up in the “perfect” apartheid moment. I grew up in this incredibly white world. I was entirely separated from the black world, so my life was very limited in terms of what I could see of the South African experience. When...
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