This movie was supposed to come out earlier this year but due to Covid-19 it had to be postponed. Since the reopening of cinemas, Sterkinekor has scheduled the movie to release 30th October.
FLATLAND opened at Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section last year and also had its North American premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema selection of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It also stirred so much love when it premiered home at the 2019 Joburg Film Festival, taking home the Best African Film Award.
FLATLAND is a contemporary Western, a journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women. It paints a vivid and unique portrait of femininity against a hostile frontier land and questions what it means to be a woman today in South Africa and the world at large. The film stars Nicole Fortuin, Faith Baloyi & Izel Bezuidenhout.
When her disastrous wedding night leads to an accidental killing, Natalie flees her husband and her small, rural town in South Africa’s desolate Karoo region. Reuniting with her rebellious best friend Poppie, who is heavily pregnant, the two escape together on horseback across the endless winter landscape.
The fate of these three different, yet equally desperate, South African women will eventually converge as they ride towards self-discovery in the face of the ever-present threat of violence, psychological as well as physical.
Variety called this movie “An exhilarating fusion of contemporary western, policier and girls-gone-wild road movie that kicked off this year’s Berlinale Panorama program with a wallop.”
The Hollywood Reporter labelled it, “a rough ride in places, staying into clumsy caricature and tonally uneven melodrama. But it is never boring, and riffs on timely themes in an entertaining, compassionate manner.“
The film switches between its protagonists in Beauty’s murder investigation and Natalie and Poppy’s journey, largely on horseback, through the Karoo desert en route to Johannesburg. Shot by Sarah Cunningham who didn’t waste time showcasing the region of South Africa in such a way of revealing the recent revival westerns. The emphasis on the dusty roads, mountains and endless sky. The cinematography showed the beauty of what this movie is.
The film has a unique yet necessary dialogue regarding the state of things in South Africa. Beauty makes multiple reference to “how things have changed” in the country during the 15 years she’s been in prison. More obvious are the politics of Natalie and Poppie’s story, which explores an inter-class and -racial friendship (Natalie is the daughter of a black woman once employed by Poppie’s white family), as well as topical explorations of gender roles and consent, especially when it comes to Natalie’s violently abusive husband.
The performances from actors hold this film together, the unique setting which will give you a glimpse into a very particular part of South Africa that’s authentic through it’s layers of genre. Gripping but yet intriguing and worthwhile.