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Ernie ‘Lastig’ Solomon, A Lucky Man Out This March

A Lucky Man

Based on the real life story of legendary former South African gangster Ernie “Lastig” Solomon A Lucky Man charts one man’s violent rise from childhood in the slums of Cape Town to one of today’s most infamous criminals.

A Lucky Manis a morality story in which the perplexing issues of identity and ethics are played out in the life of a man literally living on the edge. Born into a family where he is branded a nuisance (lastig) and an outsider by his family, and growing up in a city and country in which he is a member of a community deemed neither white nor black, Ernie “Lastig” Solomon sets out on a road paved with crime, violence and abuse in search of himself and a place he can call home. It is the universal tale of humanity: the longing for belonging.

Set in the impoverished Cape Flats, a peri-urban sprawl on the periphery of one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town, A Lucky Man traces Ernie’s quest as he collides with both family and society. He becomes the ultimate outcast, a bastard son and a criminal. For such a man, there is but one home, prison, the “Big House”, the inevitable destination.

Ernie has an inventive propensity for self-creation. He assumes identities at will which, through a mixture of cunning and luck, enable him to survive. But he is driven by an irresistible search for his real self and trusts only his own instincts to take him beyond mere survival. He is unable to escape the “nuisance” of his self-badgering: to know himself and to be known for who he is.

The young Ernie Solomon discards the trappings of childhood respectability and begins the search for an identity of which he can feel proud. The teenage Ernie trades on his innocent looks and natural quick wit to embark on a life of petty, then violent crime. During an inevitable spell in prison, Ernie is forcibly initiated by blade and at last discovers a „society‟ in which he can earn respect and thrive. On release, proudly bearing his facial scar and his “Lastig”nickname, Ernie the man is finally prepared to carve out his slice of society and reap revenge on those who have crossed him.

As a fully-fledged crime lord, Ernie is challenged by rivals and hunted by police. Only if he can continue to fight hard to protect those close to him and keep one step ahead of his enemies, does he stand a chance of remaining a lucky man.

A Lucky Manneither glamorises nor sensationalises the lives of people for whom crime is not a choice, but often an inevitable response to living in a society in which they are bound by circumstances and fate beyond their control.

The film does not attempt to solicit sympathy. It simply asks the question: Given the same situation, in which you constantly have to watch your back as you search for your sense of self, for your intrinsic sense of belonging, what would you do? Would you consider yourself a “lucky man” to have merely survived, let alone to have learned to live and fulfilled the need to belong?

Gangs In The Western Cape

The Western Cape is the gang and drug hub of South Africa. In 2012, it was estimated that about 60% of gang and drug related crimes are committed in the tough impoverished slums of the Cape Flats, although the province is home to only 10% of the country’s  population.

This is due to the endemic nature of gangsterism in the region, which sees children growing up with family members and friends of the family belonging to gangs. They are exposed to gangs on their way to and from school and grow up in an environment where they were used to running for cover “when the bullets start firing”.

In communities where gangsterism is so prevalent, even children who want nothing to do with gangs are often marked by rival gangs simply because they lived in a particular area. A culture of gangsterism leads to young men being forced to show they are “unafraid to challenge or be challenged” and develop machismo and bravado.

The prison gang members from the infamous numbers gangs, the 26s, 27s and 28s, have often spent decades behind bars, evident from their jailhouse tattoos and scars. The tattoos serve as a form of hierarchy, signify the violent crimes they’ve committed, and are symbols of the organisation they belong to. The numbers gangs operate like well-organised institutions. They consist of lower and upper structures governed by strict codes of conduct and gang rules. Breaking any of the rules, or the code of conduct, could mean death. Many who have tried have paid with their lives.

The Film

The film concept emerged from discussions we were having with the notorious gangster Ernie „Lastig‟ Solomon. The story of his obsession with finding his own identity gripped us and begged to be captured in film. It‟s the story of a life, and not just another movie about gangsterism in coloured townships.

The story of people and communities finding their identity is a universal one. This is particularly so in an age when gangsterism and the crime that goes along with it touches so many lives directly and indirectly. The world is ever more cosmopolitan and these themes of cross-cultural understanding are ever more relevant at a global level. It‟s a story of survival.

Marke Fyfe, Producer

The film concept emerged from discussions we were having with the notorious gangster Ernie „Lastig‟ Solomon. The story of his obsession with finding his own identity gripped us and begged to be captured in film. It‟s the story of a life, and not just another movie about gangsterism in coloured townships.

The story of people and communities finding their identity is a universal one. This is particularly so in an age when gangsterism and the crime that goes along with it touches so many lives directly and indirectly. The world is ever more cosmopolitan and these themes of cross-cultural understanding are ever more relevant at a global level. It‟s a story of survival.

Ernie is a man of substantial stature within his community. Following the twists and turns of the decisions he made in his life brought him to a fascinating point. Ernie was driven by an obsession to appease his metaphoric and literal cousin and saw this as part of his quest to gain acceptance as a Solomon.

Official website: www.aluckymanthemovie.com
SAMDB profile: www.samdb.co.za/film/1642

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za
And IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/

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