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African Perspectives Windhoek: Namibia Premiere of "Odd Number" on SAT 30 July 2011, 19h

In the framework of the monthly filmseries “African Perspectives”, AfricAvenir Windhoek presents the movie “Odd Number” by Marius van Straaten, 2010, South Africa, 48 min on Saturday, 30. July 2011, 19h00 at Studio 77, Entrance: 20N$. Special guest: Representative of CHANGE (former C.R.I.S., Criminals Return into Society).

In cooperation with Studio 77, Bank Windhoek Arts Festival, WhatsOnWindhoek, & the FNCC.

About the film
Odd Number is a story of redemption set in South Africa‟s Cape Flats, a low lying area south west of Cape Town, a human dumping ground for Apartheid era‟s forced removals of „black‟ and „coloured‟ people from 1948 to 1993. During this time, hundreds of labelled „non-whites‟ were forced from their homes into undeveloped, dusty pieces of land. With little or no education, and no existing infrastructure or local economy, these areas withered. For years the Cape Flats have been ravaged by gang violence, drugs and crime, as some of South Africa's poorest do what it takes to survive.

Two rival gangs control the Cape Flats, of South Africa‟s most notorious „coloured‟ communities, where it seems inevitable that countless youths are sucked into joining either the Americans or the Hard Livings gangs. Young people see the extravagant gangsters as role models, and many join gangs find a sense of belonging, while more still join to find safety in numbers. Odd Number tells the story of one such man‟s decline into gangsterism and eventual redemption as he starts a new life as an artisan plumber.

The documentary focuses around the dramatic turnaround in the life of Rashaad Adendorf, who discovered his faith whilst in jail for murders he committed as a gang hitman. The story is driven by Adendorf‟s recounting and reenactment of pivotal events in his life. Reenactment tends to be a risky strategy in filmmaking, but in Odd Number, these scenes are performed by Adendorf himself, which not only lends a sense of genuineness to the film, but brings a raw, believable quality to the already shocking scenes.

The film explores the oxymoronic humanity of gangsters, and leads the audience through the constant contrast of the current, gentle Adendorf, who narrates the film, and the violent, unfeeling Adendorf whose story unfolds.
More on the film and background: www.oddnumberfilm.com

Director’s Comment
„The Odd Number documentary was my first attempt at directing. Previously trained as a cinematographer I had experience of the filmmaking process, but not as a director of documentaries. After being friends with Rashaad Adendorf, the main protagonist in the film for six years, I approached him with the idea of making a documentary of his life.

I found his life story fascinating and thought that more people need to hear the story of Rashaad‟s change and redemption. Initially reluctant, Rashaad then agreed under the condition that he would have input and a mandate to approve the final film. The fact that I was busy with a creative Masters degree in film and media at the University of Cape Town created additional motivation for me to pursue the idea as there was a definite deadline for the submission of the documentary.

I work better with deadlines. I conceptualised, scripted and directed the film. As with all small documentaries the crew did much more than their working titles required and I appreciated the enthusiasm and commitment from the crew. My cinematographer Laura Meriläinen was amazing and did a fantastic job. Odd Number gave me a huge amount of satisfaction and I realised making films for disadvantaged communities and individuals that often don't have a platform or access to the media is my mission.

As we got to know each other better, Rashaad gradually revealed more about his life. He was an assassin for the American gang and lived a hard life as a gangster on the Cape Flats, filled with drugs and violence. On a late afternoon in 1991, Rashaad was walking in to a rival gang‟s backyard armed with two Glock 9mm pistols to assassinate Face, the gang leader of the Hard Livings gang. The American gang‟s primary opponent is the Hard Living gang. Unknown to Rashaad the Hard Livings knew Rashaad was coming and set an ambush for him. After a short, but brutal gun fight, Rashaad was shot 12 times, but managed to run in to a neighbour‟s driveway. “I entered life violently and lying there with 12 bullets in me, I realised I don‟t want to leave violently” (Adendorf, 2010). Before the Hard Livings Gang could kill Adendorf, the police arrived and he was arrested and taken to hospital. After a painful four month recovery in the prison hospital he spent the next five years in the overcrowded Pollsmoor prison during which time he made repeated court appearances.

About the director
After completing a BCom degree in Marketing and Financial Management at the University of Pretoria, Marius could no longer ignore his creative urges and completed a Higher Diploma in Film & Video Technology at the Pretoria Film School.

He then spent more than 10 years freelancing in the camera department on 16mm and 35mm film as well as shooting on various analogue and digital video formats.

He has acted as the technical director on international projects such as Fear Factor, The Batchelor, Scream and the Red Bull Music academy. He was the Digital Image Technologist on the first HD feature produced in South Africa, Promised Land, as well as numerous commercials shot on HD.

In 2000 Marius completed the Management Development Program at the Business School of the University of Stellenbosch where he won the Director‟s Prize for best student in the course. He focused on the application of the Digital formats in a Portable Production Unit environment. A year later he completed an advance darkroom course at the Cape Town School of Photography.

Odd Number was Marius‟s directing debut. “I love cinematography, but I have found my passion in directing. I aim to make socially relevant films that will highlight the plight of the unseen and unheard.”

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