CUT-OUT GIRLS. Picture: Supplied

Regret, revenge and randomness are just some of the themes that run through writer and director Nicola Hanekom’s first feature film in cinemas now.

Cut-Out Girls, a youth thriller, is an interwoven story of eight characters with date-rape as a central theme amid many unpredictable twists and turns.

The film is based on a play of the same name. The story came to life after Hanekom read about a number of date-rape incidents in a club in her neighbourhood.

“She was intrigued by how some men perceive blurred lines when they are rock solid. Somehow when a woman is drugged or drunk they think it is okay. How could this be?

“I still don’t know why this happens, but the film takes a long, hard look at it and explores several angles,” she said.

Because of the sensitivity of the plot as a woman, Hanekom made sure that while making the film, she was mindful of the survivors of rape or sexual assault and how they would feel while watching the film.

“I made sure that there is no graphic violence or nudity in the film. I tried to work with sensitivity, but without diluting the psychological impact of the story.

In the back of my mind I felt an obligation to all the survivors of rape or sexual assault out there.

“I wanted to do my best for them,” said the writer-director.

She said each of the eight characters highlight a different aspect. In this way there is someone for every viewer to identify with.

Produced by Grant Swanby, the youth thriller stars some of the country’s best new talent including, Joel Rosenblatt, Cody Mountain, Keziah Gabriel, Chloe Papademetriou, Meghan Oberholzer, Ashleigh van der Hoven and Atlanta Johnson.

“I was lucky enough to have written a play for the same cast on which the screenplay is based. So, I knew the cast members extremely well and wrote the parts for them.

“I had spent a lot of time in rehearsal with them. We had to be brave and trust each other to have the courage to do this.

“They are young, talented and awesome,” Hanekom said.

Explaining the difference when turning the play into a movie, Hanekom said it was a tricky process.

“The screenplay was tricky to write because of the multi-character plot. I was weaving many stories together and had limited time per character to create depth, empathy and a complete emotional journey.

“The directing process is so special. It is the time during filming when you try to capture the magic and honesty that will be your film.

“We had limited time due to our budget and shot at a rapid pace,” she said. Hanekom said the reason every South African over 18 should watch this film was because it could affect change. “Because we do not need to be a nation that rapes. Because this film brings truth and hope.

“Because a percentage of proceeds will go to Rape Crisis. Every mom should not only take her daughter, but her son if they are over 18.

“Our hashtag goes a long way to explain this. It kind of says it all: #InEveryMomentLiesAChoice be vigilant with yourself.

“Your choices determine who you are. Be a good human,” she said.