South African Spaghetti Western ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ Is Almost Here

After seven long years of research and development, the Michael Matthew and Sean Drummond-led production is a step closer to its 2017 release.

Heavily influenced by American westerns of the spaghetti and John Ford-era variety, South African film duo Michael Matthew and Sean Drummond have finally wrapped principal photography on thriller, Five Fingers for Marseilles.

The bad-to-the-bone flick has been seven years in the making with 5,000 miles tread through the rugged terrain of the East Cape, researching and developing, according to Variety.  And it picked up an award for Best South African Film in Development at the Durban FilmMart’s finance forum in 2013.

The synopsis of Five Fingers for Marseilles, courtesy of Shadow & Act, explains:

The community of Railway, attached to the remote South African town of Marseilles, are the victims of brutal police oppression and only the young “Five Fingers” will stand up to them. Their battle is heartfelt but innocent, until hot-headed Tau kills three policemen in an act of passion. He flees Marseilles, fearing for his life, but his action has triggered what will become a violent war between the police and his remaining Five Finger brothers. Twenty years later, Tau is released from a Johannesburg prison. He has become a feared and brutal gang leader, but scarred and empty inside he renounces violence and returns to the community of his childhood desiring only a peaceful life. In a new South Africa, Marseilles is indeed free, but to his dismay Tau finds that rather than the haven he hoped for, the town is a community now caught in the grip of cross-border gangs and corruption. Struggling to reconcile with his bitter past, he can keep his head down only so long. When violence spills into his own life he is reluctantly compelled to act. Railway and Marseilles need a champion to fight for their freedom once and for all. Calling in old prison-mates and with new blood at his side, Tau forms a new Five Fingers, standing against old friends and new enemies alike in a thrilling escalation of battle.

And all this action takes place over the course of two decades, and in the Xhosa language.

Drummond, who handled the screenwriting and shared production duties with Matthew, also helming, through their Cape Town-based Be Phat Motel Film Company, tells Variety, “Socially and politically, a lot of the themes we explore are resonating now,” adding that “the good Westerns always had socio-political undercurrents running through them.”

Yup, confronting police brutality and addressing South Africa’s socio-political and economical climate through allegory is absolutely right on time.

The ensemble cast includes lead Vuyo Dabula alongside Kenneth Nkosi, Mduduzi Mabaso, Lizwi Vilakazi, Kenneth Fok, Anthony Oseyemi, Dean Fourie, and Jerry Mofokeng. Acclaimed casting director Moonyeenn Lee also recruited local talent in supporting roles from the East Cape community.

Photos from Five Fingers for Marseilles promise its release sometime in 2017, will be well worth the wait.

Young Five Fingers, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Vuyo Dabula as Tau, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

The Night Runners, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Zethu Dlomo as Lerato, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Anthony Oseyemi as Congo Dread, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Brendan Daniels as Slim Sixteen, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Mduduzi Mabaso as Luyanda, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Young Five Fingers, Courtesy of "Five Fingers for Marseilles" Photo credit: Graham Bartholomew

Head over to the film’s Facebook page for more.

Photo still via TIFF.

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