Skeem: A Case Against the South African Movie

    Movie Review: The Case Against Skeem and Movies like it
    Synopsis of the Movie: Halfway home from a drug-sale in Jo’burg, two wannabe gangsters run into trouble when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

    Forced to spend the night at a creepy old holiday resort, their problems escalate when, unpacking the car, their box of cash splits open, spilling a million bucks in eye-catching bundles all over the driveway. They scoop it up, head inside and slam the door, but the damage is done.Greedy eyes have spotted the cash, and in five neighbouring chalets, people begin to skeem. It is directed by Tim Greene.

    Before I begin it is worth noting that they recently won the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2011 – Audience Choice Award, however it is of great concern to me that the winning scripts of African Movies are often about crime, gangs and violence. Skeem seems to follow the same road as Tsotsi which also recieved critical acclaim and won the coveted Oscar. I have nothing against people depicting different apects of African life, however I am concerned that the stories of gangs and crime that seem to have the most appeal on the World stage. South Africa is a country with a high crime rate but at the same time there are other stories waiting to be told or be promoted. Obviously the stories of gangs and crime are not the only ones being produced BUT they are the ones that seem to always get global recognition.

    I don’t like to subscribe to conspiracy because it does not offer any real solutions however it is worth noting that when only stories of poverty, gangs and crimes are promoted it creates a negative stereotype. The effect it creates translates into lost revenues and negatively affects trade and commerce as movie goers who are potential business partners take these stories to be the standard. As Africans it should be our goal to show a balanced approach of life, business, economics and politics. The stories of crime, poverty etc are already told for us by most Western media outlets. Why should we be part of the problem and not the solution?

    Every movie is a powerful advertising tool for a country and a region. When Africans watch movies from Hollywood we learn about the extravagant lifestyles of Americans and more of us wish we could visit or stay in the US. What are our movies teaching the world about us.

    Are we helping to spread the lies about Africa as a continent filled with depression, poverty and lack of opportunity. As Africans we know that is not true. We have a lot of things to offer the world and our contributions to the global economy are enormous and significant. I challenge movie producers and directors to work towards the benefit of Africans and not against us.

    The future of the African film industry lies not in being great imitators of Hollywood but creating a unique movie experience which cannot be compared to anything we have seen already.

    Watch the Trailer (above) for a South African Production called Skeem and Let me know what you think. Am I being too harsh on movie producers or can we learn something that will benefit all of us.

    Article by Samantha Dhlamini 2011


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