Stars unpack dark themes explored in SA crime-thriller ‘Collision’

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To coincide with Youth Day on 16 June, Netflix is gearing up for the release of their new local blockbuster Collision. The high-octane film stars the likes of Langley Kirkwood, Vuyo Dabula and The Wife star Bonko Khoza. 

In an exclusive interview with The South African, some of the actors — Thamsanqa Booi (who plays the role of Adze), Samkhe Makhoba (Palesa) and Pheello Kheto (Palesa’s father) — dive into the main themes explored in Collision, specifically that of xenophobia in South Africa. 

ALSO READ: New Netflix film ‘Collision’ stars Vuyo Dabula, Bonko Khoza, Sphesihle Vazi

WATCH: ‘COLLISION’ TRAILER

‘Collision’ so much more than a crime-thriller

The film is so much more than just a crime-thriller. It also explores issues of racism, xenophobia, human trafficking and drugs. Do you feel there is a need for these issues to be addressed in a powerful way in local films? 

Samke: “Of course. It reflects the realities of the century that we are currently living in. I’m not going to lie, there are people who would say ‘Ugh, I’m so tired of these narratives and these storylines.’” 

“The thing is, you’re living in it and you can’t run away from it and you need to find solutions for these problems otherwise you’ll be living in this nightmare forever. You deserve so much more.”

“I’ve experienced systematic racism for years now and we need to do something about it. We can’t just let it brush off.”

“That’s the whole purpose of Collision. On 16 June, we hope that we spark those conversations based on the social issues that we tackle.”

Xenophobia unpacked on screen

Thamsanqa, touching specifically on your character Adze’s story as a Nigerian shop owner facing xenophobia in South Africa. What were the challenges of the role?

“It begins with an accent. When you find out that you are playing a foreign character…That was quite scary.”

“A Nigerian accent is the stuff we’ve heard a lot, it’s always disparaging so I just hope I’ve brought truth to the role.”

As a father-daughter duo in the film (Samke Makhoba and Pheello Kheto)…Pheello, your character is frustrated because he feels South Africans are not being “awarded” certain opportunities due to foreigners. What message did you seek to convey with this role?

Pheello: “I’m a parent firstly. Secondly, I’m a single parent. It is hard to raise a daughter. Having Palesa as my daughter…I have a daughter named Palesa and also the same height as her (Samke Makhoba).”

“So to look at her, I end up being the real parent and not the actor who is protective of the daughter of whatever is happening outside there.”

“To whoever is going to watch Collision and looking at me as a father. Yes, frustrations are there as a parent but we’re doing our best. There’s no manual to raise them, but we’re doing our best.”

“So, as a parent watching Collision, you will look at that and resonate and say ‘Yes he’s frustrated but he’s pushing.” 

Considering recent incidents of xenophobia in the Eastern Cape, do the three of you still feel that South Africa has a long way to go in terms of this recurring and worrying issue?

Samke: “We have a really long way to go. Considering the fact that some South Africans do not really see the fact that we are so Pan-African, the continent is going Pan-African, including Netflix itself.”

“We are a Pan-African platform that supports African stories. The [significance] of telling African stories…I really fear that we may get left behind because of the controversy behind xenophobia in the country.”

Pheello:Collision has given us the platform to talk about such, so you need to put yourself in a position of saying, ‘Where am I standing? Am I on the other side or do I want to sit down and now we start to talk about such.’ Collision and even Netflix have given us the opportunity to.”

“Especially [because] the film is coming out on 16 June. Where there is also racism from 1976 to now. [We are] saying, racism is still there, how are you dealing with this? Have you spoken about this? Have you not or what?”

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