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A gentle film that combines drama and comedy with ease.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
Cassim is a young Muslim man who works in his father Ebrahim’s material shop. Ebrahim dreams of his son one day taking over the business, even if it’s struggling to survive, as it’s not in the best part of town. Ebrahim is embroiled in a 30-year feud with his brother over a matter of principle; and in contrast the brother’s shop is flourishing. This back-story deepens Ebrahim’s desire for Cassim to make a success of the shop. Cassim has meanwhile discovered that he has a talent for stand-up comedy. He’s funny and is encouraged by his peers to make a success of it, but when Ebrahim finds out about the sideline, Cassim finds himself in direct conflict with his father. A gentle and humorous comedy, with Vincent Ebrahim of The Kumars at No 42 playing the cantankerous father and Denise Newman superb as the long-suffering mother.
Eight years ago, after meeting comedian Riaad Moosa and hearing his life story, I set out to make a film about a young Muslim man who wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I wanted the film to be about an individual trying to balance his own dreams against the expectations of his family and his community. As part of my research I spent many months in the historic Muslim enclave of Fordsburg, Johannesburg. This was an area that had been completely shaped by the political history of South Africa, caught up in the forced removals of the early seventies, the community had been torn apart emotionally and geographically. As a result contemporary Fordsburg felt like a bastion of tradition reluctantly being infiltrated by the 21st century. In short, a unique setting for the film. Like Fordsburg, the central family needed to be in a state of flux, a traditional Muslim family being infiltrated by modern urban life and all its idiosyncrasies. I wanted Riaad Moosa to play the lead; he has all the qualities of a star and it was his story, but I knew that it would require a strong supporting cast to make the film excel. In the end I was fortunate in attracting a unique ensemble, comedians like Joey Rasdien together with veteran actors like Denise Newman and London-based actor Vincent Ebrahim who plays the father. Originally from South Africa but best known for his role in The Kumars at No 42, Vincent drew on his own personal experience to create a far richer, complex and layered character to the one I had originally written. His performance, combined with Riaad’s, are the heart and soul of the film. Finally, it was important that the film be both funny and poignant, for the audience to laugh and to cry, and for those forces to work together in a film that is authentically South African. I certainly believe Material has achieved some of these aspirations and I hope you love it.
Since completing his Drama degree at Wits University in 1988 he has worked as a writer and director in theatre, television and film. In 2004 he wrote and directed his first feature film Gums & Noses, adapted from his play of the same name. It won the Apollo Film Festival award for best feature, and in the same year his play The King of Laughter won three Naledi awards, including best new play and best director. His most recent television work was co-creating and directing two seasons of the improvised comedy series Sorted. In 2009 his second feature Jozi strengthened his reputation for comedy.
2004 Gums and Noses
Read the Time Out review.
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