The cast of the South African film, Nommer 37, took to the red carpet last week at the premiere screening of the gripping crime thriller.
Set in Haven Mansions, a fictional block of flats on the Cape Flats, the film sees a recent paraplegic and his girlfriend play a risky game of cat and mouse when they blackmail a powerful criminal while evading a sadistic loan shark.
Trapped in his flat, Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally) spends his days looking through a binoculars, given to him by his devoted girlfriend, Pam (Monique Rockman), after he came home from hospital.
He witnesses a gangster, Lawyer (David Manuel), kill a corrupt cop and comes up with a plan to blackmail him to help pay off his debt to loan shark Emmie (Danny Ross).
Things get tricky when the cop’s partner comes snooping around the neighbourhood, while Lawyer tries to find his blackmailer. The lead is played by Irshaad who is best-known as Rhafiek in Suidooster and Gasant in Four Corners.
He has been involved with this project since 2014 when it was turned into a short film, now four years later he is thrilled with the release of the feature film.
Irshaad said his brother-in-law, who is a paraplegic, and his friends had helped him prepare for his role.
“I’ve lived with him through his depression and wanting to leave my sister just like Randal wanted to leave Pam. He has many friends who’ve become part of our family. I sat them down and asked intimate questions about what it felt like being a disabled man, and it was met with tears and laughter. So that’s how I prepped, basically.
“It was both a wonderful and terrible experience, but I’ll do it all over again because I learnt so much,” he said.
The film is Monique’s first lead role, having spent most of her career in theatre. After relentlessly auditioning for other smaller roles in the film, she was spotted and given the role of Pam. She gets caught up in Randal’s blackmail scheme, which places both their lives in grave danger.
Director, producer and writer Nosipho Dumisa, from Rondebosch, is best known for directing her SAFTA-award winning short film, Nommer 37 (2014), which has now been completed as a feature film of the same name.
Nommer 37 is Nosipho’s debut feature film and makes her one of the first black female narrative feature film directors coming out of South Africa.
She formed Gambit Films in 2009 with like-minded film-makers in South Africa and has since served as a producer on the popular local daily soap, Suidooster (2016), and several TV movies – all before the age of 30.
“With a title like Nommer 37 and set in a fictional Cape Flats area, you would think that this is a film about gangsters – it’s not. What it is, is an out-and-out crime thriller that tightens the screws of tension with every minute.
“It’s about everything that could go wrong for a couple when depression, curiosity, greed, fear and horrific bad decision-making collide,” she said.
“My hope is that this film will be seen by all South Africans because the story is so universal and relatable, while giving us a peek into a world that’s familiar to some but unknown by most through the lens of a voyeur.
“By the time the audience walks out of the cinema, they will have been thoroughly entertained, surprised and quite possibly (though questionably) looking to buy a pair of binoculars.”
Sandi Schultz, Deon Lotz, Elton Landrew , Ephraim Gordon, Danny Ross, David Manuel and Amrain Ismail-Essop can also be seen in the movie, which opens in Ster-Kinekor cinemas across the country on Friday June 1.
Mr Ally and Ms Rockman as well as the producers and director will be at Nu-Metro Canal Walk on Friday between 4pm and 6pm for signings.