Categories
Film Review

Dust : Review

From writer and director Pieter du Plesis, in the exciting South African film Dust we get a look into a desolate land, where Rachel (Shana Mans in her feature film debut) and her family are seeking respite from the harshness of the world.

Shana Mans as Rachel and David Butler as David

Rachel, her father David (David Butler – Life is Wild, Generations, Binnerlanders), and Isaac (Christian Gous in his feature film debut), enroute to a fabled better land, encounter a family living on a farm run with religious ideology by Janice (Michelle Bradshaw – The Wild, Isidingo, Isibaya). It is here where the story takes a dark turn, and each Rachel will need to dig deep, face her inner most fears, and formulate a way to keep those dear to her safe while navigating the complex ensemble of characters at the farm. From little stirrings at first, the story progresses to life or death choices by those driven beyond their breaking points.

The story, while simple enough on the surface, includes many layers which beg the viewer to ask “what if”, placing themselves in the situations of each on-screen character, weighing decisions and beliefs. The undulating journeys we get to witness, that of each family member, the push by Janice to unite the two groups pushing the unwilling Rachel and the outwardly timid Caleb (Kaz McFadden – Strikdas, Knysna, Erfsondes), the drive to protect family and legacy, build a palpable tension that that culminates in the film’s adrenaline filled climax.

Still from Dust

Mans excels in her role as Rachel, conveying a plethora of emotion and intent, by bringing a stillness to the character that on-screen says so much about the unfurling story to the viewer, breathing life into a tormented backstory that alludes to traumatic events, and all the while leading a talented cast.

Dust has a diverse group of characters, playing out a multi-layered story that will keep viewers enthralled to the very end. The talented cast brings life to the ensemble characters, providing many nuances, emotion, and hints at hardships endured prior to where the films story beings. The film is one of those gems that shows South Africa is indeed a player on the international stage of filmmaking. From the very start, the film grips the viewer, outpacing any guesses one might hazard against plot, all as a story of intense emotion and inner turmoil unfolds.

Dust will be available on DStv BoxOffice, 9 October 2020

Categories
Film

“Dust” Flies into DStv BoxOffice

Following the phenomenal reaction to writer/director Pieter du Plessis’s debut feature film, DUST at its World Premiere as the closing film of the Durban International Film Festival on Saturday 19 September, it was announced today by Sanjeev Singh, Videovision Entertainment’s Director of Distribution and Acquisition that the film be released on DSTV BoxOffice on 9 October 2020.

DUST follows Rachel (Shana Mans) and her traumatised family who find asylum at a remote farmstead in a barren landscape. She believes that they have found a place to rest before moving on again, until the matriarch of the farm asks her to marry one of her sons. This sets off a cascade of clashing allegiances and ideologies that become more and more constricting to the young woman, her disabled father and adopted little brother. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, DUST is a slow burning tension thriller.

DUST, which features female lead characters delves into issues that impact on feminism in the modern world. The film looks at the different roles women play in society as they alternately fight against, and participate in, the systems that oppress them. DUST also explores toxic masculinity, in the form of the overtly abusive kind, and also the more benign forms that it sometimes takes in our society.

Pieter du Plessis said, “The release of DUST on DSTV BoxOffice gives us an opportunity to share the film with a wider audience. For me, making a thriller like DUST is about taking the right tone, and how I could move audiences towards the emotions I wanted them to experience. I hope that audiences are immersed in this experience and feel that they are part of the narrative.”

Sanjeev Singh commented, “We are pleased to have concluded arrangements to make DUST available on DSTV BoxOffice platform from 9 October 2020. DUST is a cinematic achievement for Pieter who crafted an engaging thriller that audiences will be able to experience in the comfort of their homes.”

DUST is an Anant Singh presentation of a Local Motion Pictures & Videovision Entertainment

Production in partnership with the Department of Trade & Industry & Rigel Films. The film stars Shana Mans, Michelle Bradshaw, Kaz Mcfadden, Gustav Gerdener, Danielle Goodall, Deon Coetzee, Justin Strydom, Christian Gous and David Butler. It is Executive Produced by Sudhir Pragjee, Sanjeev Singh & Robert Naidoo; Produced by Anant Singh & Greig Buckle and Written & Directed by Pieter du Plessis.

Categories
Television

History Africa Highlights – October 2020

UNIDENTIFIED INSIDE: AMERICA’S UFO INVESTIGATION S2
Brand New & Exclusive

9 October – 27 November, Fridays 21:05 In 2018
The New York Times ran a front-page story on a secret government program that studied UFOs and the threat of alien invasion. Championed by American senators and shadowy billionaires alike, the program ran from 2007 to 2012 and allegedly compiled a trove of evidence into a 600-page report. Exclusive to HISTORY, this explosive special presents the report’s classified contents including startling video analysis that has never been released, until now.

MOUNTAIN MEN S9
Brand New Season and Exclusive

15 October – 17 December, Thursdays 20h15
There are men in America who must still make their living off the land; hunting and trapping to provide for their families. They are MOUNTAIN MEN. Their very survival is predicated on utilising ancient skills perfected over hundreds of years. This series features a variety of men from Appalachia to the Rocky Mountains to Alaska and follows them as they race against winter to obtain the sustenance and money needed to make it through the coldest months of the year. Together, they represent America’s true MOUNTAIN MEN.

PRESIDENTS STUNT
4 October – 15 November, Sundays from 19h25

In the build up to the intense race for the 2020 US Presidential elections, HISTORY unpacks the legacies of Presidents past and present and unearths secrets of the White House and Air Force One, with the Presidents Stunt. Featuring exclusive premieres and leading titles such as Presidents at War, The Trump Dynasty and the epic mini series Grant which premieres on November 1.

BIOGRAPHY: THE TRUMP DYNASTY

4 October- 8 November, Sundays 19h25
From the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s to the origins of a New York real-estate empire, this provides an all-encompassing view of the Trump family that has rarely been seen. The series delves into Donald Trump’s childhood in Queens, his risky move into the world of Manhattan real estate, his notoriety as a best-selling author and reality television star, and the lead up to his 2016 presidential campaign. Drawing from first-hand accounts and never-before-seen archival footage, The Trump Dynasty examines the life and heritage of the 45th President of the United States.

AMERICA’S GREAT DIVIDE: FROM OBAMA TO TRUMP

4 October- 25 October, Sundays 20h15
An investigation into America’s increasingly bitter, divided and toxic politics. Episode one traces how Barack Obama’s promise of unity collapsed as increasing racial, cultural and political divisions laid the groundwork for the rise of Donald Trump. Episode two examines how Donald Trump’s campaign exploited the country’s divisions and how his presidency has unleashed anger on both sides of the divide.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WHITE HOUSE

4 October, Sunday 21h20
Piecing together information from secret sources and a two-hundred-year evolution of the White House, investigative journalists and government insiders weigh in on the mystery of an unusual white box and a top-secret construction project dubbed the “Big Dig” that took place outside of the West Wing from 2007-2012. Using little known images, previously classified material and detailed graphics, the search for truth reveals not only what secrets might lay below the White House, but how their existence could affect democracy as we know it.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF AIR FORCE ONE

11 October, Sunday 21h20
This one-hour special utilises exclusive footage to bring audiences inside Air Force One like never before. Gripping archives paired with insider interviews will illuminate the hidden history of presidential flight and unveil the incredible history of America’s most famous plane.

PRESIDENTS AT WAR

18 October – 25 October, Sundays 21h20
Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Eight remarkable men who served in World War II and went on to become Commanders-in-Chief. This is the story of how their war experiences changed them, how they emerged from conflict as leaders, and how the crucible of war shaped the decisions they made when they ultimately reached the White House.

GRANT

1 November – 15 November, Sundays 20h15
Grant tells the remarkable story of a humble man who overcomes incredible obstacles, rises to the highest ranks of power and saves the nation not once, but twice. With a seamless blend of dramatic scenes, expert commentary and enhanced archival imagery, this three-part miniseries uncovers the true legacy of the unlikely hero who led the nation during its greatest tests: the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Categories
Uncategorized

Ten Nonfiction Films Combine Art, Science, Storytelling: Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund Grantees

The nonprofit Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films, a new mission-driven documentary studio, selected and announced their latest cohort of filmmakers and projects supported by the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund, an initiative that elevates the voices of independent artists working at the intersection of science and nonfiction storytelling as they produce and promote work and discourse that highlights the overlap of science and art.

The ten selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants and access to Sundance Institute’s year-round continuum of support, which can help address creative, financial and production issues. In addition to this tailored project support, the grantees will receive opportunities for engagement events where they can connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors and Sandbox Films ’s roster of renowned scientists, as well as enthusiastic audiences.

Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund Director, said, “These visionary storytellers are working at a crucial intersection in this moment — one that centers artful nonfiction storytelling and scientific exploration and thinking. We’re pleased to champion their works, and look forward to leveraging our collective expertise to help them develop, shape and uplift their stories as they come together.”

Jessica Harrop, Head of Production, Sandbox Films, said, “We are thrilled to announce this new cohort of Sandbox Fund awardees, each of whom is expanding the boundaries of science storytelling in their own way. It is so important to us at Sandbox Films to reimagine what science stories can look like. We could not be more excited to see what this diverse group of artists creates.”

The 2020 Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund Grantees are:

DEVELOPMENT

The Age of Loneliness (USA, Canada, Germany)
dir. Jenni Morello
prod. Leslie Norville and Bennett Elliott

It is estimated that over 40% of the planet’s insect species are flying towards a catastrophic demise. As the world enters the 6th wave of extinction, we need to prepare ourselves to live in a flowerless world, with silent forests and the collapse of functioning ecosystems. If we lose insects, who is to say humans aren’t next? The Age of Loneliness is a look at the global fight to stop the impending insect apocalypse.

Darwin’s Baby (Spain)
dir. Shenny A. Madrigal and Daniel B. Arvizu
prod. Shenny A. Madrigal and Daniel B. Arvizu

Darwin’s Baby follows the venture of an illustrator and a science-philosopher in their pursue to draw a user’s manual for the human mind. A map of where the inbuilt program ends and the self begins.

End of Land (USA, Russia)
dir. Sara Dosa
prod. Shane Boris, Anna Fitch, Elijah Stevens

End of Land is an observational portrait of apocalypse, myth, and the human relationship with non-human nature, told through the explorations and interpretations of a mysterious new phenomenon: exploding methane deposits that open portals to the past and leave vast craters on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula.

Finding Your Voice (USA)
dir. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana and Daniel Chein
prod. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana and Daniel Chein

From vocalists to emcees, educators to artificial intelligence, our voices are something that define much of who we are, but which we often take for granted. Finding Your Voice explores our unique identity rooted in voice through the lens of science, technology, and culture, and the universal journey to find it.

Red Moon (UK)
dir. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian
prod. Luke W. Moody

Old worlds decolonise future worlds, migrant bodies prepare to settle on the moon. Through role-play, magic, and doppelgängers, Red Moon offers an experimental vision and template for future diasporas beyond Earth. How will the first children of the moon understand origins, borders and territories?

Testosterone: The Movie (USA)
dir. Kimberly Reed
prod. Louise Rosen

In an eye-opening exploration of the gender spectrum, humans increasingly defy binary categories, while science has learned to measure biological sex by myriad factors. Is it time to socially redefine gender in more complex ways, beyond our narrow ideas of chromosomes and testosterone?

Wilfred Buck (Canada)
dir. Lisa Jackson
prod. Lisa Jackson, Alicia Smith

Wilfred Buck is a hybrid feature centering on a Cree elder who’s been called the Indiana Jones of Indigenous star knowledge. Weaving together his harrowing past and his present life with sky stories, we’ll move between the gutter and the stars to unpack colonization’s impact on Indigenous ways of knowing.

PRODUCTION

Brigidy Bram: The Kendal Hanna Story (Bahamas, USA)
dir. Laura Gamse, Toby Lunn
prod. Kareem Mortimer, Bernard Myburgh

Bahamian painter Kendal Hanna endured years of 1950s-era electroshock therapy before emerging to create a body of work described as “a gold mine.” Artists and scientists collaborate to explore Hanna’s story and the forces that threatened to erase his memory, his work, and his name from history.

Nocturnes (India)
dir. Anirban Dutta and Anupama Srinivasan
prod. Anirban Dutta

In the dense forests of the Eastern Himalayas, a young woman scientist studies moths. A young man rediscovers the forest he has grown up with. The film follows their fascinating journey into the secret world of moths, inviting us to witness their beauty, their fragility in the face of rising temperatures and our own hidden connection with them.

Planet Nine (USA)
dir. Daniel J. Clark
prod. Caroline Clark, Nick Andert

The world’s greatest astronomers have recently calculated that a new planet, never before seen by human eyes, lurks at the edge of our solar system. Now, the race is on to find it, and whoever succeeds will be responsible for one of the most momentous discoveries in history.

For more information about the partnership go to www.sundance.org/sandbox-fund. For more information about Sandbox Films go to www.sandboxfilms.org

Categories
Awards

Academy Reveals 2020 Student Academy Award Winners

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted 18 students as winners of the 47th Student Academy Awards® competition. This year, the Student Academy Awards competition received a total of 1,474 entries from 207 domestic and 121 international colleges and universities. The 2020 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and Robert Zemeckis.

The winners are (listed alphabetically by category):

Alternative/Experimental (Domestic and International Film Schools)

  • Curry Sicong Tian, “Simulacra,” University of Southern California

Animation (Domestic Film Schools)

  • Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma, “Ciervo,” Rhode Island School of Design
  • Daniela Dwek, Maya Mendonca and Chrisy Baek, “Hamsa,” School of Visual Arts
  • Kate Namowicz and Skyler Porras, “Mime Your Manners,” Ringling College of Art & Design

Animation (International Film Schools)

  • Pascal Schelbli, “The Beauty,” Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg (Germany)

Documentary (Domestic Film Schools)

  • Allison A. Waite, “The Dope Years: The Story of Latasha Harlins,” University of Southern California
  • Laura Zéphirin, “Making Waves,” New York University
  • Yucong Chen, “Unfinished Lives,” University of Southern California

Documentary (International Film Schools)

  • Maren Klakegg, “Dear Father…,” Westerdals Institute of Film and Media, Kristiania University College (Norway)

Narrative (Domestic Film Schools)

  • Karishma Dube, “Bittu,” New York University
  • Rommel Villa Barriga, “Sweet Potatoes,” University of Southern California
  • Talia Smith, “Umama,” New York University

Narrative (International Film Schools)

  • Percival Argüero Mendoza, “Crescendo,” Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (Mexico)
  • Marie Mc Court, “I Was Still There When You Left Me,” Institut des Arts de Diffusion (Belgium)
  • German Golub, “My Dear Corpses,” Baltic Film & Media School, Tallinn University (Estonia)

First-time honors go to Baltic Film & Media School, Tallinn University, Estonia, and Institut des Arts de Diffusion, Belgium.

All Student Academy Award-winning films are eligible to compete for 2020 Oscars® in the Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film or Documentary Short Subject category. Past winners have gone on to receive 64 Oscar® nominations and have won or shared 13 awards. The medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in the seven award categories will be revealed in a virtual program highlighting the winners and their films on Wednesday, October 21.

The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to provide a platform for emerging global talent by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work.