Cape of Good Hope
Photos and Video
Where most films about South Africa that make it stateside are epics filled with good guys and bad guys, Cape of Good Hope is that rare exception -- a clear and simple portrait of imperfect everyday people and how their lives become intertwined despite their cultural differences. Kate, the white owner of the Good Hope animal shelter, clearly relates better to the dogs than people. Jean Claude has a Ph.D. in Astronomy but has fled strife in the Congo and now works at the shelter as a groundskeeper and caretaker. Sharifa is a Muslim receptionist desperate to have children with her faux-patriarchal pushover of a husband. When the young boy Thabo impresses Kate with his dog training skills, she invites him to help and it isn't long before Jean Claude takes Thabo under his wing. Soon, he meets Thabo's mother and falls for her, but there are more than a few obstacles in the way of her falling in love back. Bamford interweaves these stories into a narrative that allows each character to reveal (through universally strong performances) the subtle ways that each must deal with racism in his or her own way. Yet Bamford keeps it as subtext -- and when it does reach the surface, it is ugly, shameful and degrading. Cape of Good Hope illuminates the dichotomy that exists in modern-day South Africa, where those, both black and white, yearning to look ahead must coexist with those who remain grounded in the mores and prejudices of the past.
Director's Statement Collapse
After working as film and TV writers in Los Angeles for a number of years, my wife Suzanne and I decided it was time for a break. We sold our house in the Hollywood Hills, packed up our three-month-old son (and our dog) and moved to Cape Town, South Africa for what was
supposed to be a year's sabbatical. That was three years ago. We're still here. That first year, we wanted to do something completely different, to "give something back" as they say. So we threw ourselves into setting up two small social and economic development projects--one for
Central African refugees who'd fled civil wars and genocide in their home countries, and one for disadvantaged kids, most of whom lived in poor black townships. After a year of that, I realized two things: one, I was not very good at running these kinds of social empowerment
projects; and two, that these people had much more to teach me than I could ever teach them. Rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, black and white and everything in between--these inspiring people and their often heartbreaking stories formed the basis of what would become Cape of Good Hope. When most people think of Africa, they think of poverty, famine, war,
and disease. But anyone who's lived here for any length of time knows that Africa and its generous, wondrously diverse peoples are--despite seemingly endless trials and suffering--still somehow full of hope and, yes, even joy. I am many things, but naive is not one of them. I'm
well aware of the problems facing this continent and in fact facing the world in general at this time. But I am confident of Africa's bright future, no matter how dim the current outlook may be. I believe the so-called "Dark Continent" is in reality a continent of light, and that
soon the dream of Mandela's Rainbow Nation will be fulfilled.
Film Information Collapse
[CAPEO] | 2004 | 107 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Cape of Good Hope)
Language: English, Afrikaan, Xhosa
Country: South Africa
About the Director(s)Collapse
Mark Bamford was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in New York. The 37-year-old writer/director graduated from NYU in 1989 with a double major in French literature and linguistics, and a minor in anthropology. After working in Los Angeles as a freelance screenwriter, he wrote and directed the award-winning short film Hero, starring Julianne Nicholson (Tully, Ally McBeal) and Alan Gelfant (Next Stop Wonderland). Hero, a visually stunning and emotionally powerful story of an AWOL American soldier behind enemy lines in World War II, played in numerous film festivals worldwide, and won the Atom Film's Director to Watch Award in 2001. Hero sold worldwide for television and aired on PBS in the U.S. For the last three years, Bamford has lived with wife, cowriter and producer Suzanne Kay, and their two children in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape of Good Hope is his first feature film.