2020 has been a difficult year for the global film industry, but plenty of movies were released on a variety of different platforms and South African audiences responded enthusiastically.
With the new year just around the corner, local film distributor Indigenous Film Distribution, has some real treats lined up for the first half of 2021.
“Thanks to the tenacity of local filmmakers we have a solid slate of films coming up a well as enough variety to suit everyone’s taste in movies,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution.”
‘This is not a Burial; It’s a Resurrection‘
The year will kick off with the opening on 29 January of the multi-award-winning film ‘This is not a burial; it’s a resurrection’, starring the late South African screen legend Mary Twala. It is the first film from Lesotho, made by Mosotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese. The film is produced by Urucu Media, the talented South African team behind the hugely successful 2017 drama ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound). It opens during the global award season and has been submitted for both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in the international categories.
The visually striking drama, set in the mountains of Lesotho, opens with an elderly widow named Mantoa (Mary Twala), grieving the loss of her son. Determined to die and be laid to rest with her family, her plans are interrupted when she discovers that the village and its cemetery will be forcibly resettled to make way for a dam reservoir. Refusing to let the dead be desecrated, she finds a new will to live and ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community.
The film also stars film and television icon Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha (‘Tsotsi’, ‘Fanie Fourie’s Lobola’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’, ‘Four Corners, ‘Scandal’, ‘Soul City’, ‘Yizo Yizo’, ‘Isidingo’), Makhaola Ndebele (‘Machine Gun Preacher’, ‘Money Monster’, ‘Nomzamo’) and Tseko Monaheng (‘Naka la Moitheri’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’).
On 28 May ‘Barakat’ opens. The first ‘Afrikaaps’ language Muslim film to be produced in South Africa, it’s directed by Amy Jephta and produced by Ephraim Gordon, co-founders of production company PaperJet Films.
Aisha Davids, a widow, has to preserve the peace between her four sons after they all still struggle to come to terms with the death of their father, two years after the fact. Zunaid, Zaid, Yaseen and Nur, who return to the family home to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr (or Labarang as it’s called in Cape Town) the celebration that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, have never really dealt with their father’s death and the void he has left behind. Each son’s unprocessed pain manifests in how they are constantly fighting with each other, saddening their mother as she tries to move on with her own life.
Veteran actress Vinette Ebrahim (7de Laan, Binnelanders) plays the role of the matriarch, Aisha Davids, while the four boys are played by Joey Rasdien (Pure Monate Show, Blitzpatrollie, Bunny Chow), Mortimer Williams (Isidingo, Fiela se Kind The Musical) , Keeno-Lee Hector (Artscape’s Fame & Rent) and Danny Ross (Suidooster, 7de Laan). The cast also includes Quanita Adams (Tess, Black Southeaster, Material, Forgiveness), Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Catch a Fire), Leslie Fong (Boy Called Twist, Rockfille, Isidingo) and June van Merch (Fiela se Kind, Raaiselkind, Nul is Nie Niks Nie, Fishy Feshums).
Featuring a multi-cultural cast and produced by a dynamic team, the film portrays the community of the Cape Flats in a positive light. “The Cape is such a melting pot of cultures, especially in coloured communities, and we wanted to show people that regardless of their faith they can watch the film and proudly say, ‘Daai is os mense’, says Gordon. Despite the lockdown, the film has been playing on the festival circuit where it is picking up awards and accolades.
5 March sees the opening of the long-awaited ‘New Material’, the follow-up to the enormously popular 2012 comedy ‘Material’. Cassim Caif (Riaad Moosa), a young Muslim man living in Fordsburg, is now balancing the demands of a new marriage, a young child, and living in a house with his ageing parents, with being one of South Africa’s few Muslim stand-up comedians. His father Ebrahim (Vincent Ibrahim) has reluctantly accepted his son’s chosen career for now, but it is still a simmering issue. Cassim seeks more from life and sets out on a nationwide tour, but things go very wrong and soon he has to reassess everything he thought he wanted.
‘Courting Anathi’, a new romcom directed by Akin Omotosho (‘Tell Me Sweet Something’, ‘Man on Ground’, ‘Vaya’, will be ready in the second quarter of 2021.
Klein Karoo 2
Also releasing in the second quarter is another long-awaited follow-up, romantic comedy ‘Klein Karoo 2, starring Leandie du Randt (‘The Last Days of American Crime’, ‘Thys & Trix’ and ‘Hunting Emma’), Tim Theron (‘Klein Karoo’, ‘Mooirivier’ and ‘Hunting Emma’), Marciel Hopkins, Sisanda Henning, Anel Alexander (‘Sink’, ‘Semi-Soet’, and ‘Discreet’), Hykie Berg (‘Pretville’, ‘Lien se Lankstaan Skoene’, ‘Klein Karoo’, ‘Mooirivier’, ‘Mandela’s Gun’, ‘Forsaken’, ‘Rowwe Diamante’, ‘Dis ek Anna’ and ‘Verskietende Ster’.
Frans (Tim Theron) finds love for the second time in his life in a tale set against a backdrop of cattle thievery. The film is produced by Cobus van den Berg who was also behind Kalin Karoo (2013) and was shot around Oudtshoorn. The cast and crew managed to complete filming in October, while still under lockdown.
Thomas Gumede’s coming-of-age film ‘Kedibone’ releases on 16 April. An authentic, contemporary tale that delves into the challenges many young women and men face, it follows the story of a young and gorgeous Sotho girl, Kedibone. Born and raised in Orlando East, her naivete as a township girl changes when she ends up with the wrong crowd on the tempting streets of Jozi. Things go pear-shaped when Kedibone’s boyfriend gets wind of her shenanigans. The film features television star Natasha Thahane (‘Blood & Water’, ‘Lockdown’, and ‘The Queen’) in the lead, and also stars the hugely popular Kenneth Nkosi (‘District 9’, ‘White Wedding’, and ‘Tsotsi’).
Animated film ‘Inside Job’ (‘Not Quite Norman’), which is in post-production having been made during lockdown, is set for release toward the end of the year. Produced by Dumi Gumbi and Kati Weinek of the Ergo Company, and American film and animation studio Illumination, the film tells the tale of Norman, a kid who has to help save the planet from aliens.
Coming up in towards the end of the year will be ‘Valedictory’, the new film directed by Jahmil Qubeka, and produce and edited by Leila Swart – the team behind SA Oscar film submission ‘Knuckle City’. ‘Valedictory’ explores the story of four young people from Duncan Village who are matric pupils at Hudson Park High School and who are trying to find themselves. The four are played by Awethu Hlehli as Tiny, Khayakazi Kula as Cwaita, Tumie Ngumla as Nelisa and Niza Jay as Zongi. One of the pupils steals their uncle’s taxi to take a road trip from Duncan Village to the picturesque Hole in The Wall site near Coffee Bay. The trip comes with its fair share of hiccups along the way.
‘Misfits’, a teen drama/musical will go into production next year.
“Despite COVID-19 having upended the global film industry, South African production companies have proved to be resilient,” says Kuun. “SA audiences have been great in showing their support for local content, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the new year.”