A white South African filmmaker tries to convince a professional film crew to work with him on a documentary feature about a juvenile hitman in the all-black Cape Town Flats, but is forced to improvise other arrangements in “Shooting Bokkie.” Frenetic, fragmented, visually aggressive pic toys non-stop with viewer bearings: Is this a genuine doc or is it staged? Is this a rugged, daring expose of 13-year-old cold-blooded killers reared in an insidious culture of gangsterism or is this mere entertainment in the manner of reality shows? Guessing game will intrigue some and exasperate others. While it’s no “Blair Witch Project” or “Man Bites Dog,” pic, expanded from a well-received 30-minute short, is genuinely gripping in places.
Divided into snappily named chapters rendered via black & white and color images originated on both video and celluloid, pic’s events are stated to have taken place “between August 1998 and January 1999.”
On-screen helmer approaches prospective techies and potential funders who are seen expressing moral doubts, likening project — a documentary about a real killer in which an underage drug-runner and assassin, or “bokkie,” will commit murder on camera — to a snuff film.
Provided one finds a bokkie who agrees to be filmed on his deadly rounds, what’s the protocol for securing a written release from a juvenile criminal? These and other pragmatic and ethical problems are raised in a heady but inconclusive stew that blends gangster pride with helmer’s “objective” look at a culture where a minute of 35mm film is infinitely more precious than a human life.
Pic’s constant switching between white-skinned and black-skinned worlds as well as between black & white and color imagery keeps auds on their toes.