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SA films invade Cannes

2011-05-16 10:33
Johannesburg - While Capetonian director Oliver Hermanus’s film Skoonheid is competing in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes in France, South Africa is establishing itself as a presence in the film industry.

A biographical musical about the singer Miriam Makeba, the Afrikaans drama Roepman, political drama Otelo Burning, and Spoon, a supernatural thriller – are among 24 films, short films and documentaries that are being presented by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) to international filmmakers, financiers and prospective buyers.

Among the works are:

- Zola Maseko’s The Whale Caller, based on Zakes Mda’s magical realist novel of the same title. The story focuses on a recluse who establishes a friendship with a whale to whom he calls on a seaweed trumpet. When he finally thinks that he has turned his back on humanity, Salumi the town drunk appears. The film is being produced by director Philip Noyce, famous for works such as Rabbit Proof Fence.

- Otelo Burning is set in 1989 against the unrest in South African townships due to clashes between Inkatha and UDF supporters. Sixteen-year-old Otelo and his best friend New Year are convinced by a businessman to try surfing. Otelo excels at the sport and soon, a future removed from township life becomes a possibility. Sara Blecher directs.

- A biographical musical film about Miriam Makeba widely considered the voice of South Africa, who passed away in 2008. The film will simply be titled Makeba and will follow her exile and her triumphant return to South Africa.

- Supernatural thriller Spoon follows a young man who realizes that the medication he has been taking his whole life is erasing his memory. One day he stops taking it and his memories start flooding back. Sharlto Copley of District 9 is the producer.

- Roepman is based on Jan van Tonder’s novel of the same name. It is set on a railway camp and takes a look at the lives of the people who live there. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy called Timus. The film, with Paul Eilers in the director’s chair and Deon Lotz and Rika Sennett in lead roles open in South African theatres on May 20.

- Surfing Soweto is a documentary that follows three friends who tempt fate on a daily basis as they “surf” on the roofs of trains. The film comprises of interviews, footage of their "surfing" and their coming of age stories.

According to the NFVF’s website, the main purpose of the trip is to introduce South Africa as a place with an active and thriving film industry.

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