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Film Review – Of Good Report

Controversial “Of Good Report” opening film for Windhoek’s AfricAvenir series

Controversially banned then unbanned by the South African Film and Publication Board this year, Jahmil Qubeka’s s third feature “Of Good Report”, produced by Michael Auret and Luzuko Dilima, is a consummate tribute to classic film noir, albeit an irreverent and thoroughly South African rendition of the genre.  It will be screened to Namibian audiences early 2014. Viewers will see, the hype around the film is well deserved a very good film and something to look out for.

Schoolteacher Parker Sithole (Mothusi Magano) has arrived in a rural village with no local connections, but his unassuming disposition inspires trust and sympathy, and he comes “of good report”: with a glowing recommendation from his previous employer. He promptly begins an illicit affair with one of his new pupils, sixteen-year-old Nolitha (Petronella Tshuma). It proves to be a disastrous development for both.
Set in a rural town that reeks of the economically precarious working poor’s despair, “Of Good Report” dives into the rarely visited moral worlds of these impoverished communities, burrowing into their dark recesses and exploring their complex social webs. In this forgotten place, a place rife with vice, greed, loneliness, and the fear of sinking further into poverty, a man can get away with anything — including a gruesome murder. Sithole, who by official record and outward behaviour embodies the “good” citizen — grandson, educator, potential husband — is in reality a danger to society. The film grants him neither mercy nor salvation, refraining from drawing into psychological analysis to paint him as a victim.
Superbly filmed in black and white, Of Good Report takes us well out of our comfort zones with the boldness of an artistic and political maverick. Audiences should be forewarned: the film’s depictions of Sithole’s crimes and their aftermath is heavy viewing that may disturb some audiences.
After the banning and unbanning at the Durban International Film Festival, the film had major successes in the global film festival circus, including screenings at the London Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. It sold many times to TV stations and was released theatrically in South African cinemas nationwide. The film won Best Film at the recently held 3rd edition of African International Film Festival in Calabar, Nigeria, where I proudly served as a jury members, thanks to Keith Shiri, the festivals programmer and curator.
AfricAvenir presents the Namibian Premiere as its Opening Film 2014 in the Series African Perspectives, on 25 January at the Goethe Centre, Windhoek, at 19h00.
Entrance is N$30.

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