What Gabriel Found

Sons of the Sea

Director: John Gutierrez

Cast: Roberto Kyle, Marlon Swarts, Brendon Daniels, Nicole Fortuin

This Film is available to watch on the DIFF 2021 website – https://www.durbanfilmfest.com/collection/features/

Please note this film has violence and strong language has not been rated yet by the South African Film and Publication board.

Afrikaans with English Subtitles

Winner of Best South African Feature Film at the 2021 Durban International Film Festival

American director John Guiterrez debuts his feature film Sons of the Sea at the 2021 Durban International Film Festival all set in Simonstown and the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. This tightly wrought action thriller focuses on two brothers Mikhail and Gabriel played respectively by newcomer actors Roberto Kyle and Marlon Swarts, whose fraternal bond is stretched beyond breaking point when the younger brother Gabriel finds a dead foreigner in the small boutique hotel he is working at in Simonstown.

The foreigner is a Chinese man who has been stabbed and was trafficking abalone or perlemoen which is common off the rugged Atlantic coastline of the Western Cape.

Gabriel’s more violent and headstrong brother Mikhail convinces him that it is a brilliant idea to steal the abalone so that they can resell it. Soon a corrupt government official Peterson is onto their trail. Peterson is played by another screen newcomer Brendon Daniels. Peterson has his own worries to deal with, with a drunken mother-in-law and a young son to take care of.

Gabriel mistakenly confides his secret find to his girlfriend Tanya played by Nicole Fortuin (Flatland). Gabriel’s job at the boutique hotel and his naïve dream of becoming a photographer is shattered when Peterson starts chasing him and his brother Mikhail as they head out of Kalk Bay area over the mountainous Cape of Good Hope region where tragedy strikes.

Writer and director John Gutierrez has a firm grip on the action genre although some of the scenes are messy and he does not provide sufficient back story about the characters or about the larger issue of abalone poaching which is an ongoing problem in the Western Cape.

Gutierrez fails to contextualize the action within the broader city landscape of Cape Town, which is massive and diverse. The actors do a good job in the three respective leads and Sons of the Sea is a proudly South African film.

Sons of the Sea is a tightly wrought action film which focuses on the brother’s relationship and how Gabriel’s find leads him and his sibling into deeper trouble.

Sons of the Sea gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is worth seeing, it’s light on characterization but heavy on suspense. Recommended Viewing

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