Five long years…that's the time Jack, a career-criminal, has spent behind bars for his most recent prison sentence. His partner in crime and best friend, Twala, never got caught and Jack never talked.
However, Twala proved as treacherous as Jack is honourable by marrying Jack's former fiancée, Kim, during his prison term.
Upon his release Jack decides to go legit, but after being rejected for a loan he must find a way to make money, quickly. An opportunity presents itself when Twala suggests they rob a house with a take of R2 million. The catch is that the mark is Twala's father, Julius.
In his search for a third partner Jack comes across the tough, but sexy Olive. She's a street-smart woman, with a mysterious past and murky present.
When the robbery goes wrong secret double crosses are revealed. Twala never intended to split the money with Jack and planned to kill him all along. Meanwhile, Julius edges closer to finding out who ripped him off as the pressure mounts on the three accomplices. The tension builds towards an explosive and surprising finale.
How to Steal 2 Million is the debut feature film by director Charlie Vundla. It stars wellknown actors Menzi Ngubane, Rapulana Seiphemo, Terry Pheto, Hlubi Mboya and John Kani.
How to Steal 2 Million is the culmination of an idea I had for a jazzy cool, modern day noir set against the backdrop of an un-named African city. The film takes places in a sickly, corrupt town where everyone has ulterior motives. That's the world our lead character, Jack, walks into as he leaves prison at the beginning of the film.
He lives by a strict moral code. He's a good thief, an honourable man. Unfortunately for him he's also an anachronism. There is no longer a place for honesty, integrity and keeping one's word in the world he finds himself living in upon his release.
Although it's set in a city with no name, I fully embraced the location of modern day Johannesburg and South Africa through an ironic, witty take on the city of gold and the country as a whole. I feel that a South African filmmaker ignores the realities of this country at his peril. At the same time, an unnuanced portrayal risks becoming a caricature, so I've chosen to embrace the realities of this world in a darkly comic, subtle way.
What is truly exciting to me is that this film is an amalgam of so many great cinematic traditions.
Whether it's the noir-ish aspects of the hardened criminal who has just gotten out of prison and is roped into doing one last job, or the attractive femme fatale who isn't quite what she seems.
Alongside the voyeuristic tradition of looking into the criminal underworld that audiences have always found fascinating, are the dramatic elements of tragedy. But of course the captivating characters are front and centre.
The movie I've made is a dark, operatic, tense, moody, unsentimental tale that I hope viewers will find appealing in terms of character, scenario and aesthetics.
Charlie Vundla (Director, Writer)
27-year-old Charlie Vundla is a native of New York City. He moved to Johannesburg as a boy before returning to the United States to earn a BA in journalism at George Washington University in Washington DC. He began his professional career as a soccer reporter, travelling the country and reporting on the domestic South African football league, before spending a year writing scripts for television. Charlie then enrolled in the graduate film production program at the University of Southern California, at the time the top ranked film school in the US. He spent his time at USC directing, writing, shooting and editing short films, in addition to constantly increasing his stack of feature length film scripts. Charlie left USC after a year to found a low-budget production company where he wrote, produced, edited and directed movies that went straight to video and television. After a year and a half he parted ways with the company to focus on How to Steal 2 Million.
South African filmmaking