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is a stylish dissection of the dissipation and disaffection ravaging privileged young people in the affluent suburbs of Joburg. That’s why everything was shot very still when you’re in the house. And my producers said ‘We’d don’t have enough money to carry on shooting if he just disappears for four days.
It follows two friends Jabz and September (played by Sibs himself) who meander through their social circles in Sandton after a friend’s suicide. They hang out, have sex, talk about sex, take drugs, talk about drugs, talk, have sex and then take drugs again. When the friends talk in the park, it’s roving cameras. Normally, they’re not in charge of their life and that’s what gives them their malaise. The whole thing is f*cked.’ So we did other castings but it didn’t feel right to me.
A lot of people expect me to be a representative and a spokesperson. Every fan is like, ‘Sibs I love your shit’ and then ‘Do you want to go smoke some weed? No, I want to shoot these kids’ stories almost like an homage to Fellini, but also to Godard and skate board films. Actually that’s the one thing that I think is good about social media and MTV and stuff like that. They were the only real actors so they knew where the scene had to go. It’s all about putting your best foot forward and saying ‘Follow me, follow me.’ September is the internet: he’s the kid who’s so rap he doesn’t have any substance. They all break apart separately in the same space but they’re still trying to get approval. I don’t like that feeling but I feel that your film is necessary.’ It was traumatising because I filmed the hanging in my parents’ house because I wanted to tell my story. I was very lost and always in trouble, I was always getting arrested. My dad always used to say ‘For all this, for all the stuff I’ve worked hard for I would give anything to just know how to make you right.’ So that’s how the story would have ended.
I get this question quite a lot: ‘Do you think your movie represents the whole of African youth right now? There are a lot of kids who are OK and have good lives. I wanted to dance with the film and make it feel fresh. most of the relationships in the film are between black men and white women. When you make a South African film, people always like to put the emotional focus on the separation of apartheid and the categories of black and white or gay and straight. Because of the internet, they all grew up with MTV and probably watched Little Wayne on TV. Yes, they say ‘nigga’ the whole time, which is so American… But the internet has brought about a collective identity that’s spreading through pop culture. And I placed them with people they hadn’t even met… You can speak to someone in France and make a joke about Justin Bieber. It is a very Instagram and Twitter generation mentality. But no, sometimes when you’re broken you should actually be broken and then you’ll see who are your real friends. And it would have happened if I didn’t have my art.
The idea behind Chatroulette, a once-hot video chatting startup, was simple: people who signed on to the service were randomly matched with other chatters. You talked with that random person as long as you wanted to, and either party could move on to another randomly matched person at any time.
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Are you trying to say something about the state of South Africa or are you trying to say something about the state of privilege? A lot of African cinema is about an impoverished kid from an Ethiopian ghetto… ’ And it has to be like that because the movie is about the fact that nothing happens so I have to give back control to the characters. It’s difficult to act, direct and control everything when you’re shooting so quickly. I didn’t even remember all of September’s lines so I thought I’m just going to go off the cuff and if Bonko laughs or my cinematographer laughs then it’s golden. There’s just nothing you can do for them.’ So that’s why at the end you see the legs, the hall, the parents and the haunting sound of the suburbs. And I’ve been working on this film for the past nine years, right until we shot it. Being twelve, thirteen, as a skateboarder kid and watching Larry Clark in my room was like a Molotov cocktail going off. It was one of the first times I realised, ‘Hey I want to do this. The film tracks the last days when Mandela was about to die… I have been approached by people who say ‘You have no right to depict your country in such a negative light’. If I didn’t care I would have been making a rom-com’. African cinema is often praised for telling the ‘African’ side of the story but does that mean you feel pressure to portray the continent in a positive light? But behind that, there’s so much stuff we don’t talk about which is ruining the spirit of what Nelson Mandela fought for. There is all this pressure on the youth to remedy South Africa but I also wanted to show that the kids are like ‘I just want to go to America.’ I hate this place where there’s a general sense of nihilism instead of a fight. I think there needs to be an emotional solution before a political one.
but just because you’re not from there doesn’t mean you don’t have your own struggle. is a film about how they have nothing to do but get high all the time. September is two things: he’s obnoxious and he’s comic relief. There’s a lot of funny things that happen in tough times. This is the profession I want to do.’ Especially in South Africa where we don’t have a very big cinema culture so most of the films I saw were like . It also reminded me of the spirit of film adaptations of Bret Easton Ellis – that void and nihilism. When we were growing up we saw posters of black, white, Asian kids of my generation who were going to be the first free generation and we were going to fix the country. That’s what Mandela was; he didn’t just fight for the country; he had such a soul to him; he overwhelmed not just South Africa but the world. Now a politician just wants to be an entertainer; it’s satire.
Now a number of entrepreneurs and Web tinkerers are hoping to spin that concept into business opportunities -- while keeping the creep factor to a minimum.