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Friday, 5 June 2015

Sydney Film Festival (6) - Joe Bullett (Louis de Witt, South Africa, 1973), note by Barrie Pattison

This black South African addition to the Shaft-Superfly-Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, tradition, like it’s 1982 sequel, is pretty much undocumented, which is a pity because what went on behind the scenes is probably much more interesting that what we can watch. We are told in the program note that the film was banned and unbanned in 1973 (why?) and has only just re-appeared and we recognize the imposing Ken Gampu from his Jamie Uys movies Dingaka and The Gods Must be Crazy, and from The Naked Prey (Cornel Wilde, UK, 1965) all those years back.

He’s a plausible action hero who could have carried a more substantial production. The film’s ambitions are minimal, a formula plot about corruption in sport with Ken taking down the nasty with bad dentistry and winning the manager’s daughter, Kubeka, who does a passable musical interlude. I empathized with their poisonous Egyptian spitting cobra. Versatile director-cameraman de Witt is most at ease covering the film’s soccer matches.

The production arrives in brownish restored four by three with English sub-titles
rendering the poorly re-voiced English dialogue.

My impression is that the festival audience, who giggled their way through this,
considered it beneath their dignity but it is something that would be right at home in the Cinémathèque we haven’t got.


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