A group of school-leavers descend on a tiny coastal town for a celebration of their freedom. Roxy, Sihle, Kyle, Leon, Tamsyn and Neo party on the beach and drink themselves silly every night. The townsfolk, Hermien and her son Albert are welcoming – too welcoming. During a psychedelic trip on the beach, the friends witness a disturbing birth ritual, which could be a hallucination, or not. Soon fertility figurines start to appear at random places, and what is supposed to be the best holiday of their lives turns to horror as the teenagers are picked off one by one.
Rage is directed by Jaco Bouwer, a multi-award-winning theatre director who’s one of three Best Director nominees in the drama series category at the 2020 SAFTAs, for Dwaalster. His short film, this country is lonely, premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 and he also directed Die Spreeus, one of the 10 most-watched local series on Showmax in 2019.
Nicole Fortuin, whose previous film, Flatland, opened the Berlin Panorama, stars as Tamsyn, with The Girl From St Agnes’ breakout stars Jane de Wet and Tristan de Beer as Roxy and Kyle; two-time Silwerskerm winner Carel Nel (Dwaalster, Hum, Slaaf) as Albert; Sihle Mnqwazana, who co-wrote and acted in The Fall, a New York Times critic’s choice play, as Neo; Shalima Mkongi (Isithembiso, Nkululeko, Keeping Score) as Sihle; and Fiesta, Kanna and Fleur du Cape nominee David Viviers (Kanarie) as Leon.
SHALIMA MKONGI IS SIHLE IN 1st SHOWMAX ORIGINAL MOVIE, ‘RAGE’
“SIHLE GOT KICKED OUT OF PHYSICS IN MARCH, NEVER WENT BACK. (SHE) STILL FINISHED TOP OF HER CLASS, WITH A BURSARY TO STUDY BIOCHEMISTRY.”
This is how we are introduced to the intelligent, outspoken yet empathetic ‘Sihle’ in Showmax’s first original movie, RAGE. Actress, Shalima Mkongi, portrays the fashionably striking school-leaver who is on the popularly known Rage post-exam vacation with her group of friends from school when things turn eerie.
“South African storytelling is evolving, I hope Rage gives you the inspiration and nod that it’s okay to tell different narratives.” – Shalima on Rage
No stranger to the screen, Shalima is fast building a formidable resume in well-known local titles, including series Nkululeko and telenovela, Isithembiso. The actress continues to solidify her place in the rising talent pool of South African acting with her take on Sihle who is bold, unrelenting and a defiant spirit to the end. Shalima Mkongi reflected on her time on set shooting the streaming service’s first-ever horror movie and this is what she had to say:
Horror movies are not popularly made in South Africa, what made you say yes to this role?
For exactly that reason. As a performer, I am always looking for ways to improve my craft and that’s through trying out new things; things that challenge me further. I also think we need to diversify our content – we have a vast pool of creatives, let’s play. I love the genre, I’ve loved it from a very young age so when I was asked to play the role of Sihle, you can imagine my excitement.
What did you draw on and research in order to bring Sihle to life?
Sihle is very young in comparison to me but I have siblings her age, so I really took the time to find out what interests them in this new era we’re in. I had to look at what influences teenagers, how do they speak to themselves and relate to other people around them. I had a lot of fun finding her.
My life path number is 3 and that’s the child of the universe in numerology, so I took those childlike qualities that I have and incorporated them into Sihle. I watched a lot of Euphoria (HBO) and Midsommar – a film I’d urge people to watch. Both mediums helped me see the writer and directors intention, it allowed me to understand the world of the story more. The make-up and wardrobe played a huge part in finding Sihle, I love how young and edgy she is. I looked at Asian fashion and makeup trends to help me understand the ‘ vibe’.
This is the first Showmax Original movie, how does it feel to be part of such a moment?
I am always so honoured to be chosen to play any character, it’s even better if it’s the first of its kind. Thank you to everyone that played a role in me landing the part of Sihle. And to Showmax, thank you for opening up the industry to more diverse stories like Rage.
What was the most challenging part of filming this genre of film?
I wish we had more time to play… well to shoot. We shot this film in 2 weeks, very unheard of but everyone came through ready and prepared to work.
We’ve seen your work mostly on South African series and telenovelas before, how different was it shooting a film?
It was extremely different, from pace to shooting style but I loved every minute of it. Even my approach and preparation was different. Films are a lot slower in pace and require a different type of focus, a new level of stillness. Film has less dialogue than television so this is when breath and physicality with real emotion comes in to play. Where the actor needs to know the character well enough to understand and connect to things like character arc, a strong backstory, characters intentions and super-objectives, etc. I feel like I’m talking about drama school but yes film is a lot like theatre; it needs you to be fully present and fully prepared.
What do you want viewers to take from Rage, if anything?
South African storytelling is evolving, I hope Rage gives you the inspiration and nod that it’s okay to tell different narratives. It’s okay to diversify a cast without that being the driving marketing force behind the film. Rage is a fun movie, don’t forget to have fun when you’re telling your stories.