Chit Chat with Khalo Matabane

2010-07-30 14:06

Writer and director Khalo Matabane’s State of Violence opened this year’s Durban International Film Festival (Diff), and a retrospective of his work is on at The Bioscope in the Maboneng district from Friday, August 6.

Matabane’s previous film, ­Conversations on a Sunday ­Afternoon, won the best film award at the 2005 Diff.

State of Violence – a powerful piece of filmmaking that will resonate with South Africans from all walks of life – continues its film festival circuit at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Where does your love of ­filmmaking come from?

My grandmother was such a great storyteller, that’s why I am making films. She understood mood and tension – this film is dedicated to her.

What is the relationship ­between you and your cast, particularly Fana Mokoena and Presley Chweneyagae?
With a low-budget film, and this is a low-budget film, there is so much pressure. You need to spend time with the actors and crew – it’s like dating someone, getting to know them and then getting married.

What is the genesis of the ­story for State of Violence?
I have always been fascinated by memory. State of Violence is an amalgamation of different thoughts. Originally it wasn’t set in a family, that makes it stronger. Guillermo Arriaga (who wrote 21 Grams) talks about “boy wants girl – not much of a story. Boy wants girl and she’s married to someone else.” I take it further – boy wants girl and she’s married to his brother.

What is the central character’s dilemma?
Mokoena’s character is a man who, in the struggle, had a choice between ideology and family. He chose ideology. In the end he wants to choose family.

Mary Twala is mesmerising in the role of Bodedi’s mother. Why did you cast her?

I wanted a black woman who knows what it is like to live in a township and to have seen hell. That face is the map of South Africa.

The murder that triggers the story is shocking and the scene messy. Did you consciously shoot it like this?
I wanted the audience to see the heart of the rawness of ­violence. I didn’t want the violence to be sexy. I wanted people to be disgusted and repelled and appalled.

The film is set in Alexandra township. What were the challenges of filming there?

Well, the great thing about the township is that it’s art directing itself, you don’t need to add anything to it. When the men are running through those alleys ­between shacks, it’s all there.

What is your next project?
I have bought the rights to a book which has a lot of ­violence in it.

» The final showing of State of Violence at the Diff is at 4pm today at Musgrave Centre. The film is only due for countrywide cinema ­release in March next year.


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