'Back of the Moon' has Sophiatown rising in winning style
Oscar nominated director Angus Gibson does well in his attempt to tell the story of a gangster who falls in love amid a night of violence and forced removals in Sophiatown.
"Back Of The Moon" is more than just a reiteration of what happened during apartheid. It’s a redemption project for Gibson, who received flack 30 years ago for a documentary he did on Sophiatown. It was said to be romanticised.
The film plays out in a single night in 1958. It’s a brutal tale of gangsters pitted against gangsters. It’s a hotbed of political activity with a fight against police as the Sophiatown community are forced out of their homes – but amid all this is a love story, that at some point overtakes the main plot.
Congolese-born Richard Lukunku does a sterling job in the lead as Badman, a tall, dark and handsome intellectual. Unfortunately, Badman didn’t have an opportunity to use his intelligence on a real career, instead turning to crime as leader of the Vipers – a gang ruling Sophiatown. As the story continues, Badman turns into a good man, showing us his soft, kind-hearted, loving side, and even offering his kidnap victim a cup of tea.
Eve Msomi, a gorgeous torch singer, is played by singer/dancer turned-actress Moneoa Moshesh, known for "The Road" and ""Rhythm City. Eve is an outspoken, driven, determined and fierce young woman who would only rely on herself if she could.
Again, it’s unfortunate that her circumstances make her depend on her rich yet abusive boyfriend. After giving her last performance at the local hall before heading to London to pursue an international career, Eve is kidnapped by members of the Vipers, who defied Badman’s orders, and then saved by Badman. Here begins their love story.
On the back burner is the story of Badman’s fight to keep his father’s home in Gerty Street. He refuses to face his bleak reality of black South African life and decides to fight until death for his home, on the verge of being demolished by apartheid police.
Back Of The Moon also stars Lemogang Tsipa as Ghost, S’Dumo Mtshali as Strike and Thomas Gumede as Nat. It’s written by Gibson and Elizabeth Dougherty, produced by Desiree Markgraff and executive produced by William Kentridge and Anant Singh. It won an award for Best South African Feature Film at the 40th Durban International Film Festival. Visually the film offers a stunning pallet of earthly tones and the set design is exemplary. "Back Of The Moon" is on at cinemas nationally.