Ian Gabriel | DIRECTOR BIO
Ian’s background in drama can be traced to his work at Dorkay House, Johannesburg’s famous multi-racial theatre venue in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s where he worked with many of South Africa’s legendary jazz and theatre greats. Today Ian Gabriel is one of South Africa’s leading filmmakers. Ian’s work as a Commercial Director, has earned him a reputation throughout the world, for creating distinctive narratives, often combining iconic performance and live action photography on an epic scale. Ian has worked with talents and personalities as diverse as Nelson Mandela, Alek Wek, Cristiano Ronaldo, Charlize Theron, Haile Gebrsellassie, Miriam Makeba, Desmond Tutu etc.
Ian Gabriel’s first film Forgiveness, influenced by the post-Apartheid Truth Commission hearings, was a Golden Leopard Nominee at the 57th Locarno International Film Festival where Ian was the recipient of the Human Rights Award and the Youth July Best Film Award in 2004.
Forgiveness also received the Jerusalem Film Festival Spirit of Freedom Award and several Audience Choice Awards and has featured in programs focusing on conflict drama and reconciliation at festivals in Jerusalem, Teheran, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, London and New York and at Cambridge and Princeton Universities. At home, Forgiveness received the Best South African Film and Best African Film Award followed by Best Music Score and Best Actress Award at the 2005 South African Film and Television Awards.
Ian’s second feature film, Four Corners, is structured around shifting notions of family, fatherhood and the gangs as a young boy comes of age in tough circumstances in the special world of the Cape Flats.
Ian is co-author of Forgiveness: A Study Guide published by Oxford University Press in 2006. The book introduces South African senior school students to the study of film and conflict resolution.
Ian Gabriel is a mixed race South African of Indian descent. He has four children.
Cindy Gabriel | PRODUCER BIO
Cindy Gabriel is Executive Producer and Founder of Giant Films one of South Africa’s leading film and television production companies, producing award winning television and cinema commercials, feature films, music videos and documentary films.
Aiming to bring a range of talent and diverse work into the company, Cindy was instrumental in the development of the Giant Films documentary and feature film division, developing and producing long form projects for the company.
Four Corners, Giant Films’ most recent feature film, produced by Cindy Gabriel with Genevieve Hofmeyr, and directed by Ian Gabriel, was recently selected as the official South African foreign Language entry for the 2014 Academy Awards race.
Cindy previously produced Forgiveness (2004), lauded by CNN’s African Voices as one of the top ten African Films of the last decade. The film received numerous awards including the 2004 Best African Film and Best South African Film accolades, the Human Rights Award at Locarno, and the Youth Jury Best Film Award at Locarno, as well as being a Locarno Golden Leopard Nominee. Forgiveness won a total of 10 International awards and was distributed in over 20 countries worldwide via Fortissimo Films.
Genevieve Hofmeyr | PRODUCER BIO
Genevieve Hofmeyr is widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most skilled and accomplished Producers, who has made a significant contribution to the growth of the entertainment industry in South Africa by procuring over 50 productions across the spectrum of film production including major US studio projects, independent co- productions, episodic television/miniseries and indigenous South African films.
Genevieve has worked with award winning filmmakers such as Clint Eastwood, Edward Zwick, Michael Mann, Marc Forster, Martin Campbell, Bruce Beresford, Roland Emmerich, Phillip Noyce and Mira Nair, as well some of Hollywood’s A-List or Oscar winning stars including Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Ryan Reynolds, Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, William H Macy and Gerard Butler.
The Hollywood Reporter listed her as one of the three most influential women in South African Cinema today. Genevieve is currently the South African Producer on “The Giver”, a film directed by Phillip Noyce for The Weinstein Company.
Other film credits include “Mad Max: Fury Road” by George Miller for Warner Bros, Daniel Espinosa’s “Safe House” for Universal Pictures, Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” for Warner Bros., Revelation and Malpaso, Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond” and Roland Emmerich’s “10,000 BC” for Warner Bros., “Catch a Fire” by Phillip Noyce.
South African content produced by Genevieve includes “Four Corners” ‒ South Africa’s selected film for the Best Foreign Film category at the 2014 Academy Awards; “Skoonheid”, SA’s first Afrikaans film in competition in Cannes 2011; Mukunda Dewil’s thriller, “Retribution”; and Anthony Fabian’s multiple international award- winning “Skin” (starring Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill and Alice Krige).
From the crew
Hofmeyr Scholtz | WRITER
…on Mondays, if you’re still alive, you go back, to attend classes.
Not far from the picturesque beaches surrounding Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain, but a world apart from it, lies the Cape Flats, a sprawling shack land collapsing into gridlocked concrete dormitory towns. School grounds on weekend nights are designated gang war zones. In the old days the older gangsters reminisce about massed ‘armies’ rushing each other, armed with pangas and bin lids; but nowadays it’s strictly guns; the fights inevitably ending in fatalities. Police choppers regularly sweep the area with spot lights, clearing it sporadically but always the gunfire returns. Young gangsters go there to test their mettle.
And on Mondays, if you’re still alive, you go back, to attend classes.
In search of the story that we wanted to tell, I went to the Flats, I met with gangsters and gang bosses inside and outside Pollsmoor Prison. Hung out with beat cops and Violent Crime detectives. Also with schoolteachers, rappers and chess players.
Competitive chess is well established on the Cape Flats. Regional and National champs regularly hail from the Flats. Kenny Solomon, a consultant on Four Corners and a former prison chess tutor is South Africa’s first Grand Master. He was born and bred in Mitchell’s Plain.
Most poignant however for me were meeting the youngsters of the ghettoes. I met a twelve-year-old boy, really sweet kid with a soft lilting voice; awaiting trail for a double murder. Already he’s wearing his flag, a mark of pride and of some protection, tattooed on the back of his hand. He’s one of the legion of Mongrel Kids, or Nice Time Kids, or Young Americans. They’re all going one way. Nowhere. Fast.
As our story evolved Ricardo made his appearance and forced himself to the fore. That wasn’t our intention, we’d started developing this as a multi thread adult story. Ricardo forced his way in, causing the themes of belonging and identity to step up, also the truism ‘like father like son’ – this is when Four Corners became a more relevant and meaningful tale of who and where you are in a world which offers little choices. We based some of the story loosely around the true events of a serial killer who preyed on young ghetto boys, killing and burying them in shallow graves on the dunes between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Flats.
The three male identities were well established when Ian asked me to add a fourth story/character thread. Leila, a surgeon from London, but born and bred on the same street as Farakhan, sent away to what her father believed was a better life.
When she returns to bury him, she too discovers what she had missed all her life: a sense of identity and belonging. Her character presented another dimension to our theme.
We used the four story threads as a way to enter into the many worlds of the Four Corners, to tell this story about families of the gangs and lost families that would ultimately become a story about choice and about belonging and identity, universal concepts in a unique world that could be understood and felt for by audiences the world over.
Terence Hammond | SCREENWRITER
A screenwriter’s experience – the ring of truth
I spent thirty years growing up in South Africa before moving to Australia, I still have a strong connection to my roots. So when I was invited to get involved in Four Corners while working on another collaboration with Ian Gabriel, I was immediately attracted to the originality of the material, and the authenticity of the South African setting and subculture it portrayed. But there was more. The themes Ian and Hofmeyr Scholtz were exploring were powerfully universal – disaffected youth, the lure of crime, the search for family, the primacy of choice. My distance from the action, quite literally as I now lived in Melbourne, also allowed me to see this uniquely South African film from a world perspective. I was able to bring an outsider’s view to the writing process in the development of structure and story arcs.
What resulted was a truly collaborative effort that leapt from the page under Ian’s direction and the powerful performances by a talented and committed cast. I travelled to South Africa to attend the film shoot and saw the dialogue and action come to life in a very visceral way. As a writer it was an adrenaline-charged few days. What I was seeing had the powerful ring of truth.
Terence Hammond’s screenwriting credits include Last Dance, a hostage drama that premiered in 2012 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Last Dance was also an original screenplay Finalist at Australia’s 45th Annual AWGIE Awards and won the Cannes Senior Competition of Cannes Cinephiles, 2013.
Ronelle Loots | EDITOR
“The patina of sounds that is the Cape Flats and the great unmistakable rhythm of Cape dialects were aspects of Four Corners narrative that Ronelle would continually re-visit, using the shades of sound to high light moments of drama and human expression in the film. As a film maker it was great for me to have an editor who was as accomplished in the sound structuring as in the picture structure.”
Ronelle Loots is an accomplished film and documentary editor, having worked on more than 30 feature films, including the Truth Commission drama Forgiveness, Ian Gabriel’s debut feature in 2004. In the following year she edited Carmen in Khayelitsha directed by Mark Dornford-May, which won the Golden Bear in Berlin.
Durban Poison, directed by Andrew Worsdale and edited by Ronelle won the Best Film award at the 2013 Durban International Film Festival. Ronelle has also won the SAFTA Golden Horn award for editing for her work on Faith Like Potatoes (2006) and The World Unseen (2008) as well as the Silverscreen award for her work on Die Wonderwerker.
Ronelle has directed and edited several documentaries which include a collaboration with the poet Antje Krog, The Unfolding of Sky, which deals with issues post the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Narrative of Betrayal won several Human Rights Festival awards in war-torn Angola. Ochre and Water,a documentary co-directed with Craig Matthew, has won her numerous editing and sound design awards.
Four Corners, directed by Ian Gabriel) was unanimously chosen as the Official South African Best Foreign Language Film entry for the 2014 Academy Awards.
Lesley Manim | PERFORMANCE COACH
On my first reading of the script of “Four Corners” I felt cellularly re-arranged! It took me on a journey so compelling, so potent, raw, so full of despair and pain and radiance and redemption that I was both exhausted and exhilarated.
The preparation of the young leads for “Four Corners” was my immediate exciting brief. I was working with a group of youngsters as diverse as the Flats, all with little or no performance experience.
My approach was multifaceted: the primacy of breath as the vehicle of life, presence, voice and how it is affected by and reflects emotion, thought and intention; sensory investigation of touch, sight, sound, hearing, taste etc ; the exploration of where and how emotion is experienced and held in the body and how all of these interface and to make up character and performance.
Awareness is a crucial skill for an actor – it’s the foundation for the perception of the sensory, emotional and cognitive aspects that make up character. In life, without awareness, there is no choice. The theme of choice is a strong motif in the stories that are told and interwoven in “Four Corners.” The first step of awareness is to “Arrive” in the present moment, to be in the body, embodied.
We started our workshop sessions with an exploration of the sign “Arrive Alive”- a billboard campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. In their individual responses to this signage, the young actors became more aware and perceptive of what it means to “arrive”, what it means to be “alive”. As Keeno (Denver) said, “You can be somewhere but you haven’t arrived.”
In conversation with Jezriel (Ricardo) we noticed the differences between “living” and being “alive” and we explored physically how those differences may express themselves. We used aspects of the individuals’ lives and experiences to explore the themes and events of the script.
We explored improvisationally Frankie and Ricardo meeting. We did this first without words, each actor thinking the thoughts and feeling the feelings but not saying them. We then explored the same scene thinking the thoughts, feeling the feelings, noticing the moment when the need to speak was compelling. In this way the young actors could experience and understand how words arise out of thought and feeling and this helped, to avoid the pitfall of “saying the lines” and to allow the words to arise out of the situation.
As we progressed with our sessions we developed anon set shorthand of physically rooted reminders to “Arrive Alive. Stop and Drop (any unnecessary baggage)” so that the actors would have a way of rooting, grounding and contextualising themselves, giving them a sense of confidence that they could find a safe place in themselves during the processes of rehearsal, filming and life in general.
I was struck by Shiefaa’s combination of inner stillness, luminosity, and intelligence. Jezriel has charm and presence and an extraordinary ability to focus and stay with the process moment by moment. I think he is his own version of a young Denzel Washington. Keeno ( Denver) stole my heart with the fierceness of his vulnerability, his sensitivity to taking direction and his astounding courage as a kid from the notorious ganglands of Belhar.
Being a part of this journey has been a privilege and a delight.
Vicci Turpin | CINEMATOGRAPHER
Perfection for me is for the recreation of realism and natural light.
Even though we were under a tight schedule, the collaboration Ian and I have with wardrobe, set design and locations is always something Ian pays attention to and it is so important to me for my end result as a cinematographer. So Ian was my main reason for taking on “Four Corners “ – I know we see the same way visually and he never takes on a project without finessing it in all areas as his passion dictates.
It was always going to be a hard job but I like to shoot fast as Ian does. The locations were very challenging as we shot in the real locations that Ian had scouted himself – we were surrounded by great textures and tones I strongly wanted to go with anamorphic lenses on Four Corners. The depth drops easier and the highlights become more natural. I strive to keep the realism in light in my camera –there is a magic that comes from shooting on film that I wanted to recreate on HD. I think this really suited the situations we were in in Four Corners. Women view the world in a particular way, I felt my eye had a great opportunity to contrast well with the harsh realities of our subject.
I believe we need to show the world like it is and to recreate that ‘second of light’ you get in photojournalism. Finding enough time to shoot a scene in that ‘second of light’ is something that takes thought and teamwork and I knew I would get that from Ian – he not only strives for performance but has always, on all the projects I have worked with him, striven for the whole picture, capturing that special moment on film when everyone is working together toward one objective.
I used a lot of natural light/day for night and soft light to work with available light to read the details in all the characters and interesting real locations Ian had chosen. The natural light had to always be “controlled”, so there was a lot of upfront thought in the scheduling which we tried to stick to and Ian is always so good at that. We worked together in hard circumstances and kept a “look” going as much as we could.
Four Corners has that “look” we strove for and it releases the characters that Ian had cast from areas no one else would’ve found. That makes a cinematic dream come true.
My favourite visual references are from the Reuters photographers daily. They are now and real. So is this film.
Marcus Wormstorm | COMPOSER
‘Inflections in the score articulate the subtlest variations in an actors performance’.
For Four Corners Markus Wormstorm combined classical arrangement with electronic programming to create an integrated score. The themes ebb and flow unnoticed and at times swell to articulate the tension and drama of the film. Classical themes are accompanied by Xhosa vocals to create emotive themes in the film. Extended classical techniques were combined with hip-hop and electronic elements to articulate the tension in the film and feel the real sounds of the Cape Flats.
‘The Cape Flats hip-hop is sort of strange and familiar at the same time. So it will grab attention wherever it gets heard. The music is part of the Gangster swagger, and part of Cape Flats saying ‘here we are.’ We worked to make sure that all the tracks in the film are South African, not because that’s the only music that gets heard but because we’re expressing how the Cape Flats feels. People unfamiliar with South Africa will discover that so much is familiar yet strange – like hearing the hip hop or discovering there’s a gang called the Americans, or that the stars on an American flag represent bullets to the gangs. The familiar made strange – Four Corners is full of that.’
Markus Wormstorm is a writer and composer who lives in Cape Town with his wife and cat. Over the last ten years he has remixed and collaborated with many local and international artists including MF Doom, Sibot, and Spoek Mhatambo. He has released many EP’s and albums around the world.
His fantasy art project The Blackheart gang, which creates sculptures, books animation and prints is praised for shining an international spotlight on South African animation. In 2007 he won a special distinction award for the gangs work at the Annecy Festival in France. His company Biblo.tv, founded in 2012, offers a fresh approach to music licensing. He owns two sound studios in Cape Town called Honeymoon Studios.
‘Now that I’ve finished scoring the film there’s a gaping hole – from eating sleeping and working the movie. Loved this gig and the collaboration.’
Moonyeen Lee | CASTING DIRECTOR
‘There’s talent in this country, instinctive, genuine and generous’
I was really excited when I read the script of ” Four Corners”! Such great characters! I immediately thought of Lindiwe Matshikiza. For me, there was nobody else. Jerry Mofokeng was also a perfect fit. The other parts were not that obvious…There were so many variables. Who goes with whom? Where would we find all the young performers? What about language, who spoke what? Fortunately Ian gave me time. And lots of inspiration!
Thank goodness for actor Jody Abrahams! I spent a couple of weeks with him in Cape Town, mainly on the Cape Flats. He got me to places and people I would never have been able to access. Real Tik houses, real gangsters. Giant Films set up numerous schools we could go to. Chess was played at almost every one of those schools. We auditioned dozens of chess playing children, trying to put a team together.
We are so lucky in this country when we tell our own stories - There is so much talent, not necessarily trained in the accepted sense, but instinctive and genuine, and truly generous.
Moonyeen Lee has cast “Tsotsi”, “Life Above All” , and most recently “Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom”.
Jody Abrahams |PERFORMANCE COACH
To tell the truth we have to know we’re in safe hands.
Jody Abrahams is no stranger to the entertainment industry, debuting on the professional stage at the age of seven, winning the Sir Lawrence Olivier Award in 1999 on London’s West End and a Tony nomination on Broadway for his performance in the acclaimed ‘Kat and the Kings’ but he is ‘foremost a story teller from the tip of Africa born at the foot of Table Mountain.” He is passionate about re- imaging our history and documenting our present.
‘ For many years I was angered at the way our communities stories were depicted and told on film, based on stereotypes, hearsay, voyeuristic interpretation. I decided to judiciously check out these ‘people’ behind Four Corners wanting to make yet another Cape gangster story. Mistrust of the past dissipated and changed into positive belief: I supported and believed foremost in the story, the writers, director, producers and actors and decided to assist in any way that would facilitate this story being told as it sheds light on the truths that many face daily on the Cape flats.
As a rehearsal coach for kids one has to facilitate truth, trust and safety. Each individual has their own needs, so I assess each separately and apply different methods. We all need to trust that we are in safe hands to tell the truth: Achieve that in rehearsals and on set and you can feel, ‘mission accomplished! ‘
We can all gain something from Four Corners.
Barry Donnely | SOUND DESIGN
A world full of laughter, energy & decay
10 years ago I was in Sweden mixing Forgiveness, starring Arnold Vosloo, with first time movie director, Ian Gabriel. About 30 mixes, numerous local and international awards later, its great to team up with Ian again for his latest film ‘Four Corners’. I was really drawn to this movie because I’ve lived in Cape Town all my life: What Ian has done with Four Corners is capture the spirit of Cape Town’s underbelly that thrives
and grows in the Cape Flats. Most Captonians never visit the Cape Flats if they’re not born there, but you can hear and see the sounds of life if you drive past, as you do on the way to the airport.
The sound design for this film called for something distinctive and unique - as it’s about a part of Cape Town that people don’t really talk about, and it lives with a secret language that is only spoken by a few. The biggest challenge for us was to create a sound that is raw and edgy but at the same time easy on the ear, something that speaks of the Cape Flats special world of always full of laughter and energy and decay.