Killer to draw first blood

11 June 2013 - 02:35 By ANDILE NDLOVU

Young film-maker Jahmil XT Qubeka is surprised that his feature film Of Good Report will open next month's 34th Durban International Film Festival.

This is not because he doesn't believe his film is worthy - in fact, he considers it his best work so far - but because he fully expects its controversial subject matter to ruffle a few feathers when it premieres on July 18.

"To be quite honest, I didn't see it coming. I didn't expect them to choose it, purely because of the subject matter. It's a naughty film."

The film, Qubeka's third feature, tells the story of a small-town high school teacher, Parker Sithole (played by Mothusi Magano), with a penchant for teenaged girls. When Sithole gets involved with 16-year-old pupil Nolitha Ngubane (Petronella Tshuma), obsession quickly spirals into tragedy.

The film was hailed as "brave and remarkable" by Peter Machen, the festival's manager.

Whether the film garners positive reviews or not, the film will ignite heady debate , the director said yesterday.

"I wanted to prove to myself that I can tell a coherent story and tell it well. I also wanted to create an archetype [in Parker Sithole] - sort of our own Freddy Krueger. I wanted to do a serial killer story, but an origins story, about where it all starts."

The film was shot in May last year, but was nearly scuppered twice due to financial difficulties. Spier Films came to the rescue, according to the director.

Qubeka watched a "crap load" of serial killer films, including Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, to help craft the film. But he didn't want to make another Saw.

He stressed that he wanted to create a film that stayed with audiences after the end.

"It will linger in your subconscious; it's designed in that way," said the 34-year-old.

"Based on the test screenings and the feedback that I have got, it definitely elicits quite a vociferous response."

And don't feel bad if you can relate to Parker in some little way - Qubeka sees elements of him in all of us, and not all necessarily bad.

The Durban International Film Festival runs from July 18 to the 28th. There will be 170 theatrical screenings.

Qubeka also directed A Small Town Called Descent, which premiered at the festival three years ago.