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Groundglass Awarded Funding to Make Feature on Prison Gang Leader Turner Adams

Groundglass, 2 months, 1 week ago

Groundglass is awarded development funding by NFVF following release of prison tattoo short, Numbers

Groundglass Awarded Funding to Make Feature on Prison Gang Leader Turner Adams

Groundglass is delighted to announce that The National Film and Video Foundation (South Africa) has awarded it funding, following the release of short film Numbers, to develop a full feature on the life of notorious ‘28s’ gang member, Turner Adams.

In August 2016 Groundglass released Numbers, a visually striking short which gives a previously unseen insight into the unique and violent gang culture of South Africa’s prisons. The hypnotic film was co-directed by one of South Africa’s most respected and well-known Tattoo artists, Manuela Gray and is shot entirely in black and white, with commentary from Turner Adams.  In a rare appearance, Adams opens up to the camera to explain the vital significances and codes intrinsic to the hand-etched tattoos which adorn the prisoners’ skin. Commissioned by Sailor Jerry’s for a two month residency at London’s Sanctum Soho Hotel, the secrets of the gangs known as the 26s, 27s and 28s are revealed through the hand-etched language of the inmates intricate tattoos.

Founder and Executive Producer at Groundglass, Janette De Villiers comments: “We’re so thrilled to be able to develop this project in to a full feature. Numbers has been getting so much interest that we are currently also talking to NGO’s here about building a community centre in Lavender Hill and making the entire project part of a rehabilitation programme in the Cape Flats.”


For Janette and Manuela, the collaboration with Adams had come about as a surprise. After interviewing him for Numbers, they unlocked an intriguing story of cultural and social struggle, endurance, violence and reformation. 

“At first Turner was not interested in talking to us at all.” Explains Janette “Eventually we went to his house in Lavender Hill in desperation and we were petrified to say the least. But within 10 minutes of meeting him we’d completely forgotten who we were speaking to, and were so taken with his intellect, intuition and insight into human behaviour its now hard for us to look at him as a convicted criminal.”

Since releasing Numbers, Groundglass has been working on a series, developing two more shorts which cover the 26 and 27 gangs extensively. The feature film on Turner Adams is now in development and is planned for release in 2017.

Genre: Documentary , People , Photography , Storytelling