Lights, camera, an elaborate red carpet and lots of action – the Secrets movie premiere was nothing short of glamorous.
Celebrities and media moguls, dressed to the nines, clinked glasses with the rich and famous as cameras flashed.
Somizi, PJ Powers, Nomalanga Shozi and Sibusisiwe Jili were among those spotted at the premiere.
I was hoping to blend into the background and expected this to be just another movie premiere.
However things were not at all what they seemed.
I’m always excited to see local productions and this was no exception.
The Secrets premiere was exactly that – mysterious – and with a cast that included Peter Mashigo, Hlubi Mboya, Jerry Phele, as well as other seasoned thespians. There were some unfamiliar but invigorating performers, such as Lindiwe Dim and Brett Williams.
We were all set for a riveting viewing.
The movie centres on three strangers with three secrets; Sizwe (played by Mashigo), Amanda (played by Dim) and Ben (played by Williams), converge in a tumultuous storm with one recurring theme throughout – money.
The film is an honest and captivating depiction of a cross-section of stories.
Ben is the wealthy businessperson, whose work is not doing as well as he pretends. Sizwe is the earnest and hardworking parent, who desperately wants to send his son to university and provide for his family.
The film shows the many colours of indebtedness across classes.
The US rapper, known as The Notorious B.I.G., was really on to something when he said in his hit single Mo Money Mo Problems: “I don’t know what they want from me; it’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”
This was echoed throughout the film.
I particularly resonated with Amanda’s character as I, too, am a young professional and like the finer things in life. Often one comes very close to crossing the line between spoiling oneself and living beyond one’s means. Especially if one’s means are an internship stipend.
Sizwe’s story was all too familiar given the debt my parents found themselves in because of multiple student loans. They, like Sizwe, were desperate to create a better future for their children through education.
Redi Tlhabi, who presided over the panel discussion that followed the screening, said the film was an opportunity for reflection.
The plot twist came at the end of the 15-minute film when it was revealed that it was actually a Nedbank campaign to launch its new Greenbacks Rewards programme. Consumers will get rewarded for the management of their money as opposed to their spending. It aims to get South Africans to have an honest discussion about money.
The panel discussion featured cast members and representatives from Nedbank, Mike Brown, Nedbank chief executive officer, Anton de Wet, chief client officer, Khensani Nobanda, group executive, and Dr Tshepiso Matentjie, the wellness coach.
The campaign itself is an innovative way to get people to have honest conversations about money management practices and Matentjie did an excellent job debriefing the audience, encouraging them think about their circumstances in a positive way, without condemning themselves.
The film is a mirror giving us the opportunity to confront ourselves by watching the characters unravel their webs of financial entanglement.
However, the 15 minutes do not tackle the broader socioeconomic issues that inform the state of our finances today such as the legacy of apartheid that has resulted in the economic inequalities we face across the country.