Sesotho film bags US award

2013-04-12 13:31
Cape Town - A new South African film The Forgotten Kingdom has lifted the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2013 Ashland Independent Film Festival in Oregon, US.

Although Ashland is just a small festival, it's big news for the Sesotho-language film that was shot in Lesotho and written and directed by Andrew Mudge, and indicates that foreign audiences are happy to buy into a universal story told in Sesotho.

The subtitled feature tells the story of Atang, who returns home to Lesotho from Johannesburg to bury his father. The trip reawakens his love for a childhood friend, Dineo, who cares for her HIV-positive sister.

According to the film's website, Atang "confronts his past in this remote village he grew up in. Conflict arises when Dineo's father wants to relocate their family to escape from the public stigma of Dineo's sister's HIV infection"

The lead roles are played by Zenzo Ngqobe and Nozipho Nkelemba, both known for their work in numerous TV productions, including the soapie Rhythm City. Big-name supporting roles include Jerry Mofokeng and Lillian Dube.

Filming a 'genuine' story

The Forgotten Kingdom also went on a search to find a new child star, casting 12-year-old Lebohang Ntsane from more than 700 aspiring young actors who attended auditions in Lesotho.

During an interview, Mudge spoke more about his film, saying: "Vast and rugged landscapes. Horsemen wrapped in blankets moving through snow-peaked valleys. Thatched-hut villages lost in time. In The Forgotten Kingdom, I wanted to make a film that was primarily visual, told through the colours of the land and the faces of the Basotho people.

"The story is fictional, but represents a common scenario whereby Basotho men leave their homeland to seek employment in Johannesburg, the city of gold.

"Often these men only return when they are brought back to be buried. I spent nearly a year living in Lesotho before filming, collecting stories from people, many of whom gave valuable feedback to keep the story culturally genuine," he continued to explain.

Although The Forgotten Kingdom has a distribution deal for Europe with The Little Film Company, who also distributed Spud, it does not have a local release date yet.

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