Director Jamil X.T. Qubeka does something vapidly unfamiliar in Of Good Report. The film plays with your mind, not in a naive innocent way but you are placed in an unfolding crime scene you tangibly feel part of as a witness… After the film being banned at the Durban International Film Festival, one is left to question “is there such an audience to appreciate something so morally testing?” After the success of a Cape Town premiere, we present: a Full Moon Drive-In Cinema to showcase & honour the impactful, evocative melodrama.
In the spirit of storytelling we had a chat with the fascinating director, step into the mind of Jahmil Qubeka…
What was challenging with the psychologically expressive approach with the protagonist’s dialogue.
Its a challenge I set for myself pretty much from the onset. The physically expressive performance was established at Script level. Mothusi executed it with great finesse and aplomb.
I wrote the part for him based on many chill sessions we had. I would observe him and how he interacted with the reality around him. I would then take that and apply it to my writing. This process of constant engagement with my lead actor made the shoot an absolute pleasure and to a large degree an exercise of creative affirmation. It was awesome being on set and witnessing the plan manifest.
Tell me of the protagonist’s satire in being torn between lust & obsession.
The whole film is an allegory of the narcissistic human condition and our fascination with virtue. The psychology of the piece is based on the notion that the values which we set to guide our lives are in effect constructs of the mind that are completely expendable when they no longer serve our needs. Life is a compromise, I guess thats the fundamental message, lol.
What helped you find such authentic locations to shoot?
I was born in the town that the film was set in. I wrote the script with specific locations in mind because know that place, intimately. The landscape of the film is in the script. As it was written, so it is.
How has the international media responded to your film being banned from the Durban Film Festival?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Both the Guardian UK as well as Variety gave us awesome reviews. In that regard I am really chuffed with the response. I just wish there was more mainstream engagement with films like mine. Its a pity that the general public is not given much opportunity to engage with what has essentially become known as Art House fare. Given the choice I believe audiences would also gravitate towards non-conventional narratives.
What current challenges are you facing with your court case?
I’d rather not comment on the matter.
What was the desired outcome for the film? How do you wish your audience to respond to your work?
Engagement is what I was after. Love or hate the film I wanted the viewer to undertake the journey that is presented, allbeit a somewhat uncomfortable one.
What drove you to tell this story and explore some of the social problems set in a small town / rural area.
As I said, the narrative speaks in metaphors, its not necessarily a literal construct. A modern day fairy tale laced with horror or even a demonic parable of a sought. I always loved Roald Dahl’ naughty anthology Tales of the Unexpected. In particular one darkly comedic tale called Lamb to the Slaughter, which is a naughty tale about a wife who kills, cooks and serves her husband for dinner. A read that at a very young age and I just loved its macabre sensibility and ironic humour.
The insidious relationship is an indictment on humanity not on just one particular group.The social problems are a bi-product of the geographical context of the film.
If it were set in Reykjavik I would have had to maybe adjust the social construct within which my serial killer will eventually operate. This is a universal story, aimed at humanity as a whole, where it is set is just texture. Its irrelevant when one considers the core discourse of the film.
What have you been dreaming about?
Aliens, I have been dreaming about a day when our quarantined planet is once again welcomed back into the united inter-galactic federation of life. We have been exiled for far too long.
Interview by David Plenderleith
Special thanks to Jahmil