USES: U, G, A.
The official press synopsis compiled by the makers of the film follows. This has an instructive value: quite unlike the conventional commercial movie synopsis, Shot Down gives a sense of the nihilistic fury of the film and some of the attitudes and concerns of the young South Africans who made it.
IF THERE'S ONE THING I'VE LEARNT, IT'S NOT TO GIVE A SHIT. LOOK AT THE WORLD LEADERS. THEY'RE ALL INSANE . THEY'RE TALKING HEADS. THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE DYING EVERY DAY. BEING KILLED. HUNDREDS OF ARSEHOLES ARE GETTING AWAY WITH IT. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON ANYMORE. EVERYONE'S LOST IT, SO DON'T LOOK AT ME."
SHOTDOWN's comic anti- hero, Paul Gilliat (ROBERT COLEMAN), is a conman who accepts a job from a South African State Bureau, to make a film about a township performance group. Paul believes that working for the State is okay and in his naivety, masquerades as a filmmaker in an attempt to track down the Group Leader, Rasechaba (OWEN SEJAKA) for the powers that be.
Back home, everyone is confused, angry, and on the brink of madness. Paul checks out an old buddy, Caesar (ROBERT WHITEHEAD), who runs a politically subversive cabaret spot in the City. It is there that Paul sees Famous Dead Man, a burlesque of jazz, jokes, filth and Hendrik Verwoerd … it makes a vivid impression on him.
Paul meets Celia (MEGAN KRUSKAL) at Caesar's Place. She stars in the show and has connections with Rascheba's group. So Paul puts out political feelers, Caesar's whole set up comes under State scrutiny and the cabaret show is banned by the Censorship Board.
As Paul lives his own gangster movie, wondering why the Bureau chose him in the first place, and his relationship with Celia starts falling to pieces, Caesar's club is spraypainted by some right-wing police types. It all climaxes at an anti-military cabaret performance, which develops into a chaotic police bust. In the confusion, Paul and Caesar panic and run away for a roadhouse dinner - where a trashy white African madman guns them down for staring at him. It's all too mad, too crazy for Paul, so he leaves to the ocean, straight from the Casualty Ward.
A space to think, put everything in perspective. The beach is packed with fat white bellies. Lazy white bullshit. Their obscene apathy disgusts Paul, and motivates him to phone the Bureau and drop the job. (But) there is only an answering machine in attendance, and when Paul tries to call a member of the Group, the phone is slammed down in his ear. In limbo, he struggles to make sense of the New Year, moral decay which is surrounding him, scratching the face of his own hypocrisy. A pathetically violent confrontation in a hotel lift with a drunk fascist is the final banality, and Paul goes back to the City with a new mission: To make the movie - but for himself.
But … things have got out of hand. Celia, betrayed and almost insane, violently attacks him. For never telling the truth, for never knowing the truth, for carrying a gun, and for being such an arsehole.
He perseveres. Even manages to meet with the Group at a Soweto party. Despite his new- found earnestness, or because of it, the event turns around on Paul once again, and he is arrested and then thrown out of a moving police car. What more does it take to drive a man to murder? Accusations of expediency from best buddy Caesar, a set- up, an unforseen meeting with Rasechaba, and a weird filthy Voortrekker film follow, before Paul takes fate into his own hands.
And so, it is in the barren country, our own "Afrikaans Haven", where everything leads to a moment of great embarrassment that can only be saved by taking a stand, even if it means killing a man in Paul Gilliat's own shoes. Ask just one question:
"WHO WILL HELP YOU IN A COUNTRY WHERE NOBODY NEEDS YOUR HELP?"