Top SA Film and Theatre Personalities Appointed to AFDA’s Three Campuses

AFDA executives are pleased to announce the appointment of a number of senior staff in key positions at their three campuses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.  As part of its consistent drive to provide a high quality and relevant education for young aspiring filmmakers, TV producers and performers, AFDA has appointed a number of prominent academics and practitioners to top posts within these campuses.

Current Artistic Director of the Market Theatre, Malcolm Purkey, has been appointed as Dean Designate of the AFDA campus in Johannesburg. Malcolm will also continue in his role as Artistic Director of the Market, on a revised contract for the foreseeable future. Respected award-winning theatre director Greg Homan is head of the Performance School while award-winning film-maker Brent Quinn will head the Film School.

In Cape Town prolific producer, director of photography and photographer, Roy Zeitsky has been appointed as Head of the Film School, with highly experienced TV presenter, producer and news editor Megan Rusi, as Head of the TV School and well-known academic and director Dr. Christopher John as head the Performance School.

Then in Durban respected film maker Richard Green has been appointed Head of the Film School, with award-winning actor/playwright and director, Rajesh Gopie  as Head of the Performance School and Franco Human, moves from the Cape Town campus  where he held the position of Deputy Undergraduate Course Director and Producing Lecturer, to take up the position as Dean of School in Durban.

Malcolm Purkey, is an award-winning theatre director and playwright, (Breytenbach Epathlon, English Academy Award, and multiple Vita Awards, including Best New South African Play for Love, Crime and Johannesburg and most recently a Fleur du Cap as best director for the Cape Town production of The Girl in the Yellow Dress). He is also a screenplay writer, teacher and academic (Fulbright Scholar), and a founder member and director of Junction Avenue Theatre Company, one of South Africa’s leading workshop theatre companies.

“I am really proud to be associated with AFDA, and am excited about moving back into the world of academia and professional studies, and look forward to working with a dynamic and enthusiastic team.” Says Malcolm.

Greg Homann, who has until recently headed up the Writing and Directing programs in the division of Dramatic Arts at the Wits School of the Arts, has a BA Dramatic Arts degree from Wits University and an MA (with distinction) in Text and Performance Studies from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King’s College London. As a theatre director, actor, academic and occasional writer he has worked on a broad range of productions and projects as both a performer and director from Comedy to Drama, Musical Theatre to new South African plays.

Brent Quinn describes himself as a South African storyteller with over twenty five years experience working in film, television, film training and advocacy media. His producing and screenwriting work has garnered around 60 global recognitions. He currently consults on various television and feature film projects.

Roy Zeitsky, who studied at the Brooks Institute of Film in Santa Barbara, California has years of experience as a Producer, Director, DOP and Photographer. He has been filming and directing commercials and film since 1990 and was a prolific fashion and social documentary photographer for ten years prior to that. He has been executive producer of 3 major South African production companies, Zigi Films, Fresh Water Films and Pistoleros Films. He is also a partner and director in the feature film company Jet Black Entertainment, launched in 2011, with the production of the feature film The Good Man, for award winning Irish director Phil Harrison, on which Roy was producer and Director of Photography.

“I am most honoured by this appointment and excited about the challenge of making one of the greatest film schools in Africa, even greater.” Says Roy.

Megan Rusi has worked in the television industry for over twenty years as a television journalist as well as presenter, producer and news editor for SABC news and current affairs. She worked as Acting Editor-in-chief at ETV and was instrumental in setting up ETV’s news operation. She’s also produced a current affairs programme for the last five years that is broadcast on the DSTV platform, as well as other countries abroad. She has extensive training experience having trained at many broadcast organizations, universities and corporate companies.

Christopher John has a PHD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Masters Degree in English from the University of Natal. In 2008 he was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence in the Theatre Department at California State University Polytechnic, Pomona. He was born in Zimbabwe and travelled to the UK in 1975 where he studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He has experience working with both Western and African theatre companies including with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End, and on Broadway. From 1997 to 2011 he was Senior Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. From 1999 to 2011 he led a Prison Theatre project at Westville Correctional Facility in Durban and ran a project in an informal settlement in Inanda, using theatre and video to help heal a community torn apart by political violence.

Franco Human, is excited about the possibilities the new Durban school will offer students and the film and theatre industry.  Human, who has been with AFDA for 10 years, started at the Johannesburg school as production co-ordinator and later took up a position as a junior lecturer in the producing department before moving to Cape Town. He has produced many short films, theatre musical productions, a celebrity campaign for M-Net and the SABC, a television series for CTV and an Afrikaans horror feature film as part of his Masters of Fine Art degree (which played to rave reviews), to name a few.  He has worked with the lifestyle show “Expresso” on SABC 3 and you may just recognise him as “the guy in the green shorts” doing Zumba.

Richard Green, the Durban-based director/producer, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the mix. Green has a string of well-known films to his name including Spud, District 9, Otelo Burning with his most recent being assistant director on Anant Singh’s Long Walk to Freedom, which is currently in post-production.

As an actor Rajesh Gopie has worked with many eminent South African directors as well as working with the world renowned, Handspring Puppet Company. He has performed the title role in Hamlet directed by Janet Suzman, which went on to be performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Rajesh was a recipient of the prestigious Oppenheimer Grant, which allowed him to train with various teachers in England, including attendance at British American Drama Academy at Baliol College in Oxford during the summer of 2004.  He has also acted in a number of major TV shows and films and as a writer, his plays OUT of Bounds and The Coolie Odyssey are now firmly in the cannon of South African theatre classics.

“Accepting this position as head of live performance is a bold step for me.” says Rajesh Gopie, whose professional career up until now has been as a “sole agent” in the tough world of live performance, “But this heralds an exciting new phase in my life and I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and growing a new generation of live performance practitioners.”

“AFDA has always and wishes to continue to develop talent that is networked, skilled and enthusiastic about creating culturally-relevant entertainment; producing products for local markets as well as global niche markets.” Says AFDA Co-Funder and Chairman Garth Holmes. “The ultimate axis on which this creativity sits is in the quality of academics and practitioners of the institution.  We have therefore selected individuals for their experience in the entertainment industry as well as their academic and professional achievements.”

“It’s an exciting new era for us and we have re-structured the schools’ management in order to provide a relevant and fruitful education – one that is comparable and in some instances better than the top institutions in the world, and one that meets the challenges of a society that is changing and evolving at an exponential rate.” says AFDA co-founder and CEO Bata Passchier.

For more information about AFDA contact Lanna Lamberts on or go to


Vibrant 50’s Afrikaans Musical Film Hits Local Cinema Screens 23 Nov

‘Pretville’, the brand new Afrikaans musical film from Hartiwood Films, opens in cinemas nationwide on 23 November 2012. The film is a rollicking romantic musical comedy set in the 50s, in a vibrant and colourful town where anything can happen and fun is the order of the day.

This is the second musical from the talented filmmaking team behind the 2010 blockbuster ‘Liefling, Die Movie’, the best-performing Afrikaans feature film of all time, and brings together once more the vision and skills of producers Paul Kruger and Emma Kruger, and co-producer and director Linda Korsten.

Also on board is the internationally acclaimed composer and songwriter Machiel Roets who has composed more than 30 brand new Afrikaans songs for the film. Roets has worked as musical director on pantomimes and musicals in London for more than 12 years.

“‘Pretville’ captures the spirit of the 50s through music, dance and colour,” says director Linda Korsten. “It’s a feel-good movie filled with recognisable characters and wacky personalities.”

Featuring 50s music from rock ‘n roll to doo-wop, the film pays homage to an era characterised by charm and romance. “In the tradition of ‘Grease’ and ‘Hairspray’, it’s madly colourful and stylish,” says Korsten. It features sumptuous costumes, with a wardrobe never before seen in a local movie. Because it’s set in the 50s, audiences will also be able to feast their eyes on a gorgeous collection of classic vintage cars too.”

The extravagant set was built from scratch at Hartbeespoort and encompasses a town hall, diner, hair salon, garage, funeral parlour and other distinctive small town features. Producer Paul Kruger scouted everywhere for a suitable location which still had lots of buildings from the 50s, but could not find anything that worked. “I chatted to my sister, who is an architect, and she suggested we just build the town ourselves,” he says. “She showed me the plans an d we went ahead. We began the project in April 2011, and it took me, seven builders and five assistants about a year to construct it.

In the lead are Marlee van der Merwe (Liefling, Die Movie), newcomer Eugene Jensen and Marno van der Merwe (Longshot). Also starring in the film is Terence Bridgett as the flamboyant hairdresser and mayor of ‘‘Pretville’’. Other well known stars appearing in the film include Annette Engelbrecht, Lizz Meiring, Steve Hofmeyr, Rina Nienaber, Emo Adams, Margit Meyer-Rodenbeck, Willem Botha, Sanet Ackerman, Kevin Leo and Jakkie Louw, as well as a line-up of fresh, young talent.

“Machiel, Linda and I all had a few people in mind for the cast, but the process was very organic,” says Kruger. “As the story developed, so we thought of people who could play the part for example, Emo Adams and Margit Meyer-Rodenbeck as the ‘Pretville’ police officers and Kevin Leo and Jakkie Louw as the jail wardens. And who better to play the prisoners that Kobus Wiese and Jimmy Abbott? Terence Bridgett as the hairdresser and mayor was also a shoe-in. The casting was spot on.”

‘Pretville’ will be distributed by Indigenous Film Distribution. “The attendance figures show that South African audiences are loving the top quality Afrikaans films that have been produced in the last two years,” says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution. “It’s exciting to see the progress being made in driving quality and excellent production values while also creating great South African entertainment.”

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Pretville in cinema 23 November

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NHU Africa’s Saving Rhino Phila wins Panda Award

NHU Africa’s production, Saving Rhino Phila has won a prestigious Panda Award for best film in the Nature Conservancy Environment and Conservation category at the Wildscreen Film Festival in Bristol, UK. The Wildscreen festival is the longest standing and most respected wildlife film festival in the world, drawing top names from broadcasters like Animal Planet, Discovery and National Geographic. The film was commissioned by NHU Africa and produced by Triosphere and directed by Richard Slater-Jones.

The film was steered from conception to completion by NHU Africa’s commissioning editor and creative director Vyv Simson, who had this to say about last night’s accomplishment; “Winning a Panda Award at Wildscreen is about as good as it gets in this business. I’m so pleased and so proud of everyone who has worked so hard. This award has placed the whole of the South African wildlife film making industry centre stage.”

Oloff Bergh, producer from Triosphere was also extremely pleased to receive the award, and explained initial motivation for the film; “As a team of passionate wildlife filmmakers and conservationists, we were desperate to bring the world’s attention to the mass slaughter of South Africa’s rhinos. But, we had to create a concept which would appeal to international audiences. Just another news piece about “the war on rhinos” was not going to have an impact. Phila’s tragic ordeal presented the ideal opportunity to tell one rhino’s story in a personalized yet compelling and informative way. Winning the Panda award for Saving Rhino Phila not only gives deserved recognition to the highly talented, committed and passionate team that produced the film – but it accentuates the original objective of drawing the world’s attention to the plight of rhinos in South Africa.”

Saving Rhino Phila is a 52 minute documentary that tells the harrowing tale of Phila, who survived being shot nine times on two separate occasions in attempts to kill her for her horn. It is a powerful story that identifies the individual struggles of both owners and rhinos in the ongoing battle to keep the species from falling prey to the persistent and brutal attacks by poachers. Saving Rhino Phila set out to educate people about this through the use of dramatic recreations and the compelling struggle for survival against the odds by heroine Phila. According to director Slater-Jones, the film is meant to “hit the audience between the eyes” and hopefully stem the tide of demand for rhino horn on an international level.

Saving Rhino Phila is available for purchase on


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