District Six-inspired Address Unknown a success

30 September 2020

DISTRICT Six’s painful history at the hand of the apartheid regime is widely documented and the latest depiction of that story has become a local and global success.

In addition to a world premiere at the Black Star Film Festival in the US last month, locally-produced Address Unknown was a hit at the recent Durban International Film Festival(DIFF).

The film was the most-watched showcase and won the Audience Choice Award at the annual festival.

Fictional short film

It follows the story of a District Six postman named ‘Joey’, detailing how his close childhood friendship survives the brutal Apartheid Government’s Group Areas Act.

“It’s a short fiction film,” said scriptwriter Anton Fisher during a Zoom chat with Film Cape Town.

“There’ve been documentaries and I think there have been television soaps in the early 90s but I don’t think there’s ever been a (cinematic) feature film made about District Six.”

Anton Fisher

Fisher is a former journalist and anti-apartheid activist who bagged his first script at age 60 with Address Unknown.

In developing the script, Fisher interviewed Zain Young, a former postman and a resident of District Six.

When the apartheid regime forcibly removed thousands of people of colour from District Six and dumped on the Cape Flats, many residents left the area without providing a forwarding address, according to Young.

This resulted in letters being destroyed by the General Post Office of the time.

The film’s triumph was a bit of a surprise for Fisher but he is proud of the project’s success.

Film industry support

The film was shot over three consecutive days taking in locations from District Six, Woodstock to Bonteheuwel.

Production was completed before the outbreak of COVID-19.

It was also through the assistance of Refinery Cape Town the film’s editing was completed seamlessly.

Fisher highlighted how the Cape Town’s Film Permit Office helped make production easy – particularly in issuing permits and location approvals.

The film was produced in association with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), which funded production.

According to Fisher, the NFVF were really helpful and very supportive at every stage of the production process.

As a first time producer, writing the film’s script made him realise he has finally found his passion.

“This is something I’d like to do again and become a full-time filmmaker.”

Fisher plans to produce a full-length version of Address Unknown which could be released in the next year or two.