The film, which is set in the Cape Flats, home to the notorious Number Gang factions of the Western Cape, was South Africa’s Official Selection for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards and an International Press Academy 2014 Satellite Award Nominee for Best International Film.
IAN GABRIEL: The Greek root for the term beauty and for the natural order of things is hora, which is suggestive of the notion of beauty as being located in a particular moment and being ‘of the time’. If there’s beauty in Four Corners I think it’s because it has been perceived as being ‘of this time’ in South Africa. The Four Corners subject, and more broadly the inside story of this and other marginal communities in South Africa, has often been ignored, causing members of the Cape Flats community to frequently refer to their society as ‘forgotten’, a term I often heard while making the film. Personally I prefer to think in terms other than ‘making the ugly beautiful’, which presumes a set of observational judgments based perhaps on our feelings about the tough, marginal nature of life in the community that Four Corners explores. If I spoke about ‘making the disturbing fascinating,’ which has always been an integral part of the film making process and accounts for a lot of the fascination we feel for hundreds of movies that we know and love, that would be a closer description to what I think the film does. Beyond this notion I’d suggest that a lot of what is explored in Four Corners is that often intangible, hard to grasp sense of emotional beauty that we experience when we reach out to the communities in our midst. When that experience touches us we respond and find beauty because it confirms that we’re all still part of a greater more humane universe than the more me-oriented one we busy ourselves with from day to day.
Many South Africans live in close proximity to two things, a sense of physical danger often generated by a high level of crime in our society, and a marginal community where life is tough and choices are few. Probably the most frequently recurring Cape Town story of the past 10 years has been the continual reportage of gang activity and gang war and its effect on youth in the Cape Flats. The fact that all this is happening no more than five kilometers from the heart of Cape Town city makes me surprised that the subject has not been addressed on film and in art sooner and with more frequency. And that we’ve failed to make films with coloured actors playing coloured roles – that strikes me as odd and it suggests to me that South African artists (including film makers) need to focus their attention on all subjects that present themselves as pressing in our lives. I believe that the Four Corners subject presents itself in that way. I’m open to any story that I am offered access to.