Decorated South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka opened last month’s 40th Durban International Film Festival to great ceremony with his fourth feature, Knuckle City. The film is now officially poised to continue its festival run with an international premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema section for the Toronto International Film Festival next month.
An aging, womanizing professional boxer and his career-criminal brother take one last shot at success and get more than they’ve bargained for, in South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s slick, gripping new film.
Much is ado with Qubeka after well over a decade directing numerous projects. He’s packed in several nominations from various festival outings, among which he won Best Director at the South African Film and Television Awards for his 2013 film, Of Good Report; Knuckle City was nominated for Best Film for the International Competition at Durban.
For Knuckle City, Qubeka filmed the boxing drama in his own home township of Mdantsane, intent on tapping into the same archetypes seen in cult classics like Raging Bull, Mean Streets and Rocky.
“As a space Mdantsane has produced multiple world champions, and for some inexplicable reason has forged a legacy of boxing prowess against all odds.” Qubeka wrote a few months back on social media, reflecting on his efforts to use boxing as a means of emulating the transformative nature of the craft in the very neighborhood he grew up in back in the 80s and 90s.
“This for me is an indication of the elements that have shaped this environment and manifests in a psychology of physical battle, which
represents the inner tussle with self. It is my intention to capture the essence of life in Mdantsane and the restless pursuit of being a champion within a society that often dictates you are a failure. I am determined with this film to give audiences a glimpse into a world rarely seen, and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted individuals inhabiting our land.”
The full TIFF schedule and screening dates for Knuckle City will be announced on August 20. Peep the trailer above!