South African writer, director and producer Grant de Graf has entered a short film competition with ‘Burned’, his exquisitely filmed story about a former South African special forces operative who seeks revenge after his family is targeted by hijackers. (If you’d like to vote for the film – there’s a link at the end of this article.)
“The story is based on someone who was a former Recce commander who I know from my days in the Navy, and whose family was the target of a hijacking,” says Grant. The real-life event occurred about five years ago.
To enter the competition, Grant has submitted a video trailer (see below) and three paragraphs from the pitch. The storyline summary begins in a way some will (unfortunately) relate to:
“Shaun Mansfield and his wife Natasha, thought it would be like any other Sunday. The headlights of an approaching car, flicker in the distance. Natasha smiles at Shaun in content. She could not be happier. The approaching car slows and suddenly swerves in their path.
“Four of its hooded occupants exit the vehicle, bearing AK-47s. They order Shaun, Natasha and their two girls out of the car and shoot them, execution style. Shaun, a former South African special forces operative, overpowers one of the hijackers. After a brief scuffle, he too succumbs to an AK-47 slug.”
Shaun is a character who had campaigned against Apartheid and stood, like many South Africans, “huddled with his buddies, around cracking coals at a braai and drank cold ale”.
He survives the tragic “Mansfield massacre” and together with an old friend from Soweto, Moses Ndulu, is intent on executing the hijackers in revenge because the two friends feel “there will no justice in a country where crime is out of control”.
Seconds before moving in, Shaun reconsiders, realising he will only be adding to the “violence that has plagued the country” and that it wouldn’t be a “fitting memory” for his family. But just as he convinces Moses and the team to back down, the killers attack…
Since the pitch is being made to an international market, an American accent has been used for the narration, but Grant assures us that the film will be produced with “genuine (made in South Africa) accents”!
If you would like to vote for ‘Burned’ in the competition, please click here.