Award-winning film maker Sibs Shongwe-La Mer’s long-awaited feature, Necktie Youth, will premiere in the prestigious Panorama section of the 2015 Berlinale International Film Festival in Germany.
The film, about disaffected kids riding through a haze of sex and drugs in Joburg, has a slot in the festival’s opening weekend early next month in the beautiful Kino International theatre.
The film has been through various incarnations. A 45-minute(ish) version, called Territorial Pissings, was selected for the 67th Festival del film Locarno Filmmakers Academy in 2014, an annual programme that highlights 25 promising international film makers. It was here that Shongwe-La Mer found financing for this middle-budget film.
Territorial Pissings was also selected for inclusion in the 70th Venice International Film Festival’s Final Cut programme, which aids the completion of progressive African cinematic achievements.
Necktie Youth chronicles a day in the life of best friends Jabz and September, two hyper-Americanised Zulu boys, as they go on a drug-fuelled joyride through Joburg’s affluent suburbs.
A series of seemingly random events eventually leads them to the home (and into the arms) of beautiful bikini-clad Jewish twins Tali and Rafi.
Necktie Youth, along with Jenna Bass’ award-winning Love the One You Love (which will be released in South African cinemas in May), signifies a shift in the kinds of films being made in this country.
Hopefully, this new direction will bring back confidence in South African films by an audience battered by ill-advised, expensive American knockoffs and hagiographies of our recent history. The past will always be present, but Necktie Youth is significant because it does not focus on the ghosts, but rather on the haunted.