Gangster tale Mayfair a new South African film by award-winning director Sara Blecher

Gangster tale ‘Mayfair’ is a new film by award-winning director Sara Blecher (Ayanda, Dis Ek Anna, Otelo Burning) and writer Neil McCarthy.

Read an interview with SAFTA-award-winning writer Neil McCarthy

Sara Blecher

Mayfair takes the classic gangster film – one that peels back the layers of moral hypocrisy beneath the crime boss’s veneer of respectability – and locates it in Mayfair, Johannesburg, in 2016. This is a suburb that was once defined as “Indian” by the architects of apartheid, but has since become a melting pot of new migrants from across the continent.
It is the story of the relationship between a father and a son. The son rejects and abhors everything about his father’s moral choices, until he learns that his father once had to make the exact same choices he is now being forced to make. As much as he wishes he and his father weren’t the same, in the end he realises that they have much in common.

‘Mayfair’ tells the story of prodigal son Zaid Randera (Ronak Patani) who returns home to Mayfair in Johannesburg, where his overbearing father Aziz (Rajesh Gopie) – a businessman and occasional money launderer – is facing death threats
Directed by a woman, Maifair offers a female perspective on a genre that is distinctly male, and a story that is about manhood.

“We are very excited that ‘Mayfair’ is a semi-finalist,” says director Sara Blecher. “This is the third global festival we have been invited to participate in, and each one has a different focus. Film festivals are great launch pads for a new film. They are attended by acquisition executives who rely on the choices made by festival programmers to work their way through the best of the vast number of films in circulation. To screen at these festivals is a big plus for a film from South Africa and I am proud that the value of our work on ‘Mayfair’ is being recognised globally.”

‘Mayfair’ was also selected for the prestigious 62nd BFI London Film festival (October 2018) in the ‘Films in Thrill’ section of the BFI London Film festival, described as ‘nerve-shredders that’ll get your adrenaline pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat’.

The film will also screen at this year’s Africa in Motion (AiM), an annual African film festival taking place in Scotland, from 26 October to 4 November. Now in its twelfth year, AiM brings the best of African cinema to Scotland, making it possible for Scottish audiences to engage with African stories and industry professionals from the continent.

“Screening at festivals enables the film to play to an audience of receptive and appreciative filmgoers,” says Helen Kuun. MD of Indigenous Film Distribution. “It’s an excellent way to build publicity for a film like ‘Mayfair’ in the lead up to its release.”

The film draws on the rich history of Mayfair, an Indian neighbourhood during the apartheid era that has more recently become an enclave for Somali immigrants arriving in Johannesburg. Despite their shared Muslim culture, the original residents of the suburb come into conflict with the Somali gangs and it’s the story of this struggle that lies at the heart of the film.

Zaid finds that everything at home has changed. The old neighbourhood is full of new immigrants with different ways of doing things. His father is in over his head as a result of a soured deal with ruthless Somalis. Zaid remains reluctant to become involved but when Faiza, his baby sister, is kidnapped after a failed cash drop to resolve the Somali deal, Zaid must decide how far he is prepared to go to protect his family.