Star Wars cinematographer returns to his SA roots for local film festival

2016-09-04 08:55

Cape Town - Acclaimed South African cinematographer Dan Mindel – who has worked on big-budget movies including Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – returned to our shores recently to take part in this year’s kykNET Silwerskermfees.

The festival aims to create a platform for dialogue between South African film makers and international experts.

Part of the festival was a competition that urged young film makers from the SA School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, Big Fish and Umuzi Academy to submit their work and stand a chance to win R30 000. They also won a mini masterclass with kykNET’s content team, as well as the opportunity to showcase their work at the 2017 kykNET Silwerskermfees.

The US-based Mindel was one of the judges. Of the more than 75 film entries received, the winner was Nondumiso Buthelezi, the director of a short film titled Oswenka, which looks at the Zulu tradition of "swenking", or being a natty dresser.

"I just really liked the attitude of Oswenka and I loved the positive vibe that came from it," Mindel said of the selection.

"It wasn’t necessarily a negative snapshot of life. I loved the colour; I’m a huge proponent of mixing the palate in films. There’s also a certain absurdity to the whole thing."

Mindel, who was born in Johannesburg, moved with his family to England when he was a child. In the 1980s, he moved to the US, where he continued his film career.

Asked whether South Africans needed to go overseas to become big in film, he said the movie business had become international.

"It’s become less about where you’re from than what you can do. The unfortunate thing is that the pulp industry is in America and it’s hard to get the experience if you’re not in the US. So, the short answer is yes, I think you need to go overseas."

Mindel recently finished work on a sci-fi thriller starring Selma’s David Oyelowo, called God Particle, and is currently working on the sequel to the blockbuster Pacific Rim. His filmography includes The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Mission: Impossible III, John Carter and Enemy of the State.

"I always read science fiction as a kid, but I never made a conscious effort to get involved in it," he said.

Although Mindel doesn’t visit South Africa often, he said he was happy to come for the film festival.

"I’m really a foreigner here ... but I just love the things I see and the people I meet. And the diversity is just so huge."

Mindel said he liked to go to the cinema to experience films in their best state. "I try not to watch movies on aeroplanes or on my computer. Out of respect for everyone who works on the film, you’ve got to pay for your movie ticket and watch it at the cinema."

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