The Umbrella Men


KHALED returns to Cape Town to bury his father - it’s been ten years. Uninterested in being around his father’s nightclub and cronies, he hopes to return to Johannesburg immediately after the funeral.

Given their toxic relationship he is surprised to discover his father’s dying wish was for him to run the GOEMA nightclub (last haven where gangsters and gentrification mix) and lead THE UMBRELLA MEN in the annual street carnival.

TARIEK, a long-time rival of KHALED’S father offers to take the troublesome nightclub off KHALED’S hands. However, as the deal is happening KHALED sees through TARIEK’S little plan. The club must be worth more than KHALED expected – KHALED, in loads of debt could do with the money.

He visits the bank to see what it’s worth and whether he can get a loan. He unexpectedly meets KEISHA (falls for) who will ultimately play a pivotal role in the success or failure of the heist.

The condescending bank manager turns him down for a loan and informs him that if he does not deposit a large sum of cash in the next two weeks, the bank will foreclose on the property - the land is worth more than they are letting on. History repeating itself - District Six all over again.

KHALED goes ‘door to door’ in an effort to raise the money. The impoverished community cannot help.

Khaled receives a letter from the bank foreclosing on the property unless Khaled can come up with the cash in two weeks time. The plot thickens.

With his back to the wall and nagging in the pit of his stomach, KHALED, for the first time in his life decides to dig in and save the nightclub. If not for him - for his AUNT VALERIE. For his community - for his fellow musicians - for his friends.

With his best friend MORTIMER’S timely release from prison and a few musicians, he puts a crew together to rob the local bank, the same bank that wants to steal their land.

As KHALED reconnects with friends, family and a KEISHA his unexpected love, he comes to understand why his father had such a bond with the club, the minstrel troupe and the community.

The plan is to take advantage of the chaos of the carnival and use the troupe on the street as an alibi. Faces painted, thousands of brightly coloured outfits, who could say they were not on the street. The police and carnival organizers will be focused on the successful running of the carnival.

However, TARIEK’S on a mission to own the land and to win the minstrel carnival. If he gets the club he also gets the Umbrella Men musicians - who he needs to win the carnival especially KHALED’S very talented niece FATIMA. Get FATIMA in your troupe and you win.

KHALED had planned to take advantage of his relationship with KEISHA and her knowledge of the interior workings of the bank, however, he had not planned to fall in love. It comes down to ‘If I tell her she could bust us, if I don’t tell her, we could all go to prison’.

Will KHALED and his group of muso friends be smart enough to outsmart TARIEK and the entire city of Cape Town in SA’s greatest heist.

Director – John Barker

Writer – John Barker

Proposed Cast – Irshaad Alley, Jason Cope, Abdurahgmaan Adams & Joey Rasdien

Script chosen L’Atalier Festival de Cannes 2009: Script for Umbrella Men


About John Barker

Writer/Director/Producer, known for his directorial debut film Bunny Chow.

Copyright © John Barker - a Barking Rat film - All rights reserved