SA’s sloppy Sundance hit is disappointing

2015-03-15 17:00

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After a marathon filming process and an incredibly small budget, Willem van den Heever’s skateboarding film, Dropping In, was selected in January as one of the Short Film Challenge winners by the Sundance Institute.

The brief for the competition was to make a short movie that showed unorthodox ways of positively impacting the lives of others.

Dropping In follows the story of Sam, whose life is turned around when he is allowed to pursue his passion, skateboarding. A good Samaritan, Marcus, gives him a job at the local skate park, which provides Sam with a steady income and a place to practise his skills. If the story sounds simplistic, that’s because it is.

The small budget and time constraints aside, the film has some serious flaws, and we can’t really understand what the Sundance Institute saw in it.

The Instagram-style filtered images and VSCO Cam widescreen frames are somewhat appealing and suit the subject matter well. But paired with shocking acting, a boring plot and a generic white-man-saves-black-boy narrative, the film is a flop.

As an old Blunt Magazine devotee, I was disappointed by the reflection of skateboard culture in South Africa. There was only one vaguely gravity-defying skate shot and you never got the sense that Marcus or Sam could actually skate – well, not beyond wheeling down a flat street, that is.

Though I fully respect the true events that inspired the story and the way in which the film fits the brief, surely the Sundance committee goes beyond simply checking boxes.

Compared with another winner in the category, A Will of Iron by Nigerian film makers Seyi Fabunmi and Mobolaji Adeolu, Dropping In is completely overshadowed.

A Will of Iron is shot extraordinarily well, draws on a riveting real-life story and has some truly golden cinematic moments.

It is surprising that these films could  be considered as even remotely in the same league.

* Watch the amazing A Will of Iron on Vimeo 

Dropping In was one of the Short Film Challenge winners at the Sundance Festival.


Nigerian film, A Will of Iron was also selected by the Sundance Institute.

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