‘The Suit’: Why Can Themba's 1950s complex tale of love is still a hit
Atandwa Kani, as Philemon, forces his cheating wife to treat her young lover’s suit as if it were a person.
JOHANNESBURG – In a time where love affairs no longer send shockwaves through society, comes a 1950s representation tale of infidelity and embarrassment.
The Suit is a South African film based on prolific journalist Can Themba’s classic short story of Philemon, played by “the prince of theatre” Atandwa Kani, who finds his wife in bed with her young lover.
As the makhwapheni flees in shame and haste, heartbroken Philemon forces his wife Matilda - played by Phuthi Nakene – to treat the lover's left-behind suit as a guest in their house.
Set in 1950s Sophiatown, tragic consequences then befall Philemon, Matilda and their unwelcome guest - the suit.
This year marks 50 years since Themba's death.
Director Jarryd Coetsee says the film addresses more than infatuation and a troubled marriage.
“The story also serves as an allegory for the impact of oppression on personal relationships. When we experience persecution or victimisation in society, we often hurt those closest to us, the ones we love the most.”
He adds The Suit roars beyond South African borders in addressing oppression.
“The Suit is not only relevant in South Africa where we are trying to bridge a legacy of colonial oppression, but in many places across the world where oppression reveals itself in many guises.”
The short film has already bagged the Best Short Film at the Scotland African Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Shnit International Short Film Festival in Cape Town.
It is currently vying for the Best Narrative Short Award at the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles and will in the near future grace the screens of the Vancouver South African Film Festival, the Toronto Black Film Festival and the Leuven African Film Festival.
WATCH: The Suit- Short Film (2016) - Official Trailer