OFFICIAL SELECTION 2018
DIRECTOR : Riaz Solker
COUNTRY : South Africa
YEAR : 2018
TIME : 100min
Nu Metro 5, 10 Oct @ 7.45pm | SK Nouveau 5, 12 Oct @ 12.30pm
Sodium day is a drama/comedy/tragedy slice-of-life film about a tumultuous day in the life of a mixed bag of students at a poor government school on the Cape Flats called John Shelby High. Grade 12Y (the class letter is after the surname of the class teacher) is the only class doing Mathematics at a matric level at the school.
It’s September, a month away from the matric exams and they still don’t have a maths teacher. Six woefully unqualified temps have already come and gone during the year leaving everyone hopelessly inadequately prepared for the upcoming finals. The class is made up of a cynical and disenfranchised mixed group of black and coloured students, and the latent racism that still exists in this environment often rises to the surface.
A newly qualified white substitute teacher arrives to teach maths, though he isn’t a maths teacher…he’s qualified as a History and English teacher. Through his eyes we are introduced to the characters in the class.
The day is further complicated by the arrival of a teacher and a group of students from a rich, upper class school, whose day-long visit is part of a cultural exchange programme, but who are shunted around from class to class by cynical, burnt out teachers who don’t want interlopers in their classes, until they arrive at 12Y, because the substitute teacher doesn’t know any better.
A clash of approaches, cultures and personalities ensues.
The mood of 12Y is also strained because one of the girls, Simone, hasn’t showed up for class, and there’s a rumour going around that a dead body that fits her description was found on a field close to where she lives.
Also….one of the local gangsters is planning to invade the school with a couple of his cronies to deal with one of the students in 12Y whom he mistakenly thinks slept with his girlfriend.
All these ingredients combine to create the Sodium Day…. Sodium being a metal that explodes when you add water to it, as seen in many science classrooms. The film begins with a rather large explosion as three friends throw a large chunk of sodium (stolen from the science lab) onto the waterlogged school field.
The climax of the film is a different kind of explosion, one coming from a volatile mix of racism, culture clash, gangster invasion, and impending bad news about Simone… as the last strained strands of the youthful innocence and optimism of 12Y are put to the test.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Riaz Solker has worked in various capacities as a writer, director, producer, actor and lecturer over the past twenty years in the South African film industry. Notable highlights in his career include his eight-part mini-series ‘Here’s to Good Times’, as well as placing third in the worldwide standings of the 48 Hour film competition, where his short film ‘Past Tense’ screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Riaz currently teaches directing and acting at City Varsity Cape Town.