2020 looks set to be another bumper year for homegrown cinema, and there’s something for everyone.
The year 2020 is fast approaching and Indigenous Film Distribution has lined up a slate of must-see local films – from ground-breaking indies to more commercial fare that will appeal to all filmgoers.
“2019 was a hugely successful year for local film, and the new year looks set to continue the trend,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Production. “The industry has continued to grow and to experiment with different genres. Local audiences are making it clear that they enjoy seeing movies about themselves.”
Here is a round-up of some forthcoming releases:
First up, opening on 28 February is South Africa’s selection for the highly coveted International Feature Film category at the Oscars ®, ‘Knuckle City’. Directed Mdantsane-born filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, the film is already making big waves overseas after careening at various international film festivals to much acclaim. The gritty crime-drama tells the story of an aging, womanising, professional boxer from the Eastern Cape and his career-criminal brother who take one last shot at success and get more than they've bargained for.
‘Knuckle City’ was the opener of the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in 2019 and received a standing ovation from the audience. Bongile Mantsai won best actor at DIFF for his role as the boxer. ‘The film had its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the prestigious Toronto International film Festival (TIFF) in September 2019.
‘Knuckle City’ also stars Siv Ngesi, Faniswa Yisa, Awethu Hleli, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Zolisa Xaluva, Owen Sejake and Angela Sithole. The film was co-produced by Qubeka and Layla Swart of Yellowbone Entertainment along with Mzansi Magic. It was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, The National Empowerment Fund (NEF), The Eastern Cape Development Corporation, and the NFVF.
Next up, on 27 March, is ‘Griekwastad’, directed by award-winning director and producer Jozua Malherbe. It tells the tale of the search to find the truth behind the murders that shocked and divided a community. ‘Griekwastad’ is based on the bestselling true crime novel by Jacques Steenkamp. The film stars Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Dick De Waal, the meticulous investigating officer of the strange and sinister murder case.
‘Griekwastad’ is written by Tertius Kapp, based on the book by Jacques Steenkamp. The film also stars Daniah de Villiers, Rolanda Marais, Sisanda Henna, Crystal-Donna Roberts, Gérard Rudolf, Neels van Jaarsveld, Tim Theron, Tshamano Sebe, and Alex van Dyk. It is executive produced by KykNET in collaboration with SCENE23, the production hub that produced the hit series ‘Trackers’, which was created by acclaimed thriller writer Deon Meyer, along with Cobus van den Berg, Tracey Lange and Tim Theron.
‘Flatland’, directed by Jenna Bass and starring Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin and Izel Bezuidenhout, opens on 10 April. The indie feature took home the 'Best African Film' award at the 2019 Joburg Film Festival. The unique, contemporary drama, which opened Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section at the beginning of 2019, is a journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women – a pregnant teenager, a young bride, and a middle-aged cop – played out against the backdrop of the Karoo. The film had its North American premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema selection of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Questioning issues of race, class and gender, ‘Flatland’ is a portrait of femininity set against the backdrop of a hostile frontier land, that interrogates what it means to be a woman today – in South Africa and the world at large.
What are the hurdles faced by single black women navigating the world of romance? That’s the question at the heart of quirky comedy film ‘Seriously Single’. The film will be released on 1 May, and is the latest project to come out of the Emerging Black Filmmakers Transformation Fund (EBFTF) and is produced by Burnt Onion.
The film tells the story of Dineo, who is the definition of serial monogamist. She dates to fall in love. She falls in love to get married. But she never gets married. She always ends up dumped. When she meets Lunga Sibiya, he seems to be the man she’s waited her whole life for, a man who shares her values when it comes to love and relationships. Or so she thinks… After a messy breakup with Lunga, her commitment-phobic bestie, Noni, helps Dineo face what she dreads most: life as a single woman.
‘Seriously Single’ stars Fulu Mugovhani, who is known to local audiences from her leading role in Ayanda (2015), a performance that earned her many awards and nominations from the Africa Movie Academy Awards, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Africa International Film Festival. ‘Seriously Single’ also stars comedian, author and producer Tumi Morake, Bohang Moeko and Yonda Thomas.
Directed by Louw Venter, ‘The Tree’, opening on 28 August, tells the story of Grace, a homeless refugee who is kidnapped on the streets of Cape Town after she sets out to earn some money to buy medicine for her child. The child, now lost, wanders the city streets alone. A policeman and his girlfriend drift apart. A nurse yearns for motherhood. The film looks at how five wildly disparate lives begin to intersect in painful and surprising ways. ‘The Tree’ is produced by Elias Ribeiro and Cait Pansegrouw of Urucu Media, whose previous feature ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound) was an international success.
Releasing in the same month is ‘The Fragile King’, produced by creative duo Cati Weinek and Dumi Gumbi’s Ergo Company, a studio that focuses on commercial genre driven local feature films.
On 2 October, the much-anticipated sequel to ‘Material’, the hilarious, heart-warming hit film about a dutiful young Muslim man who moonlights as a stand-up comedian, opens. In ‘New Material’, Cassim Kaif (Riaad Moosa) navigates the bumpy road of balancing his chosen career as a stand-up comedian with his faith, his community and his family.
So make room for popcorn in your budget, film fans. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2020.