William Collinson and Paul Slabolepszy vehicle strikes the right note with festival jury
This has been a winning week for Mr Johnson, the latest film from the Azania Productions stable (Broken Promises, Blessers). The film struck all the right notes at its first international festival outing and scooped Best Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Global Nonviolent Film Festival.
“We are overwhelmed by the reception that Mr Johnson has received, both here and internationally,” says producer Aimee Dherman of Azania Productions. “This is a small film, but it has a lot of heart, and we are happy to learn that it was embraced by audiences and jury members at the Global Nonviolent Film Festival. We are especially proud of William Collinson and Paul Slabolepszy, but praise has to go to the entire production team.”
The Global Nonviolent Film Festival was established in 2012 and is the most important and renowned nonviolent film festival in the world, demonstrating that nonviolent films are not only capable of great international success, but are also in high demand by the public. Mr Johnson was in competition alongside films from Azerbaijan, USA and France.
“Mr Johnson was such a labour of love,” says writer/director William Collinson. “I never imagined that our little film would fare so well internationally. This has been an extremely humbling experience and I am truly honoured to receive this award. I was blessed to have such an astounding cast and crew who gave their all to realise my vision for Mr Johnson. Let us hope that this film goes some way towards changing attitudes towards elderly people.”
“I am honoured to receive this award from the Global Nonviolent Film Festival,” says Paul Slabolepszy. “It was great to play this character, particularly because old people are so often invisibilized. What Mr Johnson shows is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you still have energy, enthusiasm and can contribute as much as anyone else. In that sense, this is an important film.”
The film examines how, often, older people are marginalized by society and become invisible. When David Johnson awakes from a 47-year coma at the age of 73, he has a hard time dealing with his aged body and the fact that he has missed out on more than half his life. As he slowly steps into this strange new world, his youthful exuberance is undimmed and, with a little prodding, he tackles life and love with the energy and passion of a man half his age. However, like many other people of his age, he also wrestles with issues of loneliness and alienation.
The film stars Paul Slabolepszy (Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, Saturday Night at the Palace) and Jana Cilliers (Die Boekklub, Die Leeftyd van Orgidee), withFrank Rautenbach (The Bang Bang Club), Sisanda Henna (Griekwastad), Graham Hopkins (Eye in the Sky), Jailoshini Naidoo (Keeping Up with the Kandasamys), Carla Classen (Stroomop), Drikus Volschenk (Dis Ek, Anna), Antony Coleman (Blood Diamond), Heike Brunner (Knysna), Clayton Boyd (The Entity), Marinus Gubitz (Onortodoks), and Mila Guy (Wonderlus).
The film was made with support of the Department of Trade and Industry, National Film and Video Foundation and Indigenous Film Distribution.