These are exciting times for the South African Film Industry and cinema lovers at large. Barely three months into the new year and our movie theatres are abuzz with new films and a variety of freshly brewed South African stories.
Let’s take a look at who is dominating our big screens and which films are the talk of the town and why; starting with the controversial Inxeba.
Before its official release on the 2nd of February, Inxeba managed to cause quite a stir while scooping 20 awards both locally and internationally for the Best Feature Film (Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival); Best South African Director & Best Actor (Durban International Film Festival) and Outstanding International Narrative Feature (L.A Outfest) –just to name a few. The mind-blowing feature film may have enjoyed many rewards but it also suffered a number of setbacks due to its bold narrative that explores the complexities of homosexuality and patriarchy on the backdrop of a cultural traditional Xhosa custom, Ulwaluko (traditional circumcision and initiation into manhood).
Losing out on an Oscar nomination was a mild blow for the film compared to the current predicament the movie is facing. Following its reclassification by the Film and Publication Board (FPB), Inxeba(The Wound) is now classified as an ‘X18 rated film’ deemed too explicit for main-stream cinemas and was pulled out of circulation. The producers have filed a lawsuit against the (FPB) for its unjust censorship.
But do not despair, while that battle continues, there are more local movies awaiting national release so buckle up as the month of March threatens to keep you at the edge of your seats, with films like Asinamali; Susters; Meerkat Maantuig and Catching Feelings.
Asinamali kicked off at cinema’s, nationwide today. The musical is a stage play (now turned film) written by the legendary Mbongeni Ngema in the 1980s. It is set in the apartheid era where comrade Washington (Mbongeni Ngema) a black struggle activist returns to South Africa on a mission to work with convicts to create a musical play. The film is produced by the same creative duo (Ngema and Darrell Roodt) that brought us the hit classical Sarafina. Asinamali was well received at the closing of Durban’s 2017 International Festival, where it Premiered.We transition out of Asinamali’s political tide with the dark romantic comedy, Catching Feelings which features the likes of Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland and Akin Omotoso. The film is a meeting-point for love, life and art. It is followed by the release of Meerkat Maantuig, where young Gideonette De La Rey (Anchen du Plessis) lures us into her fantasy world; haunted by a family curse she struggles to overcome, she finds comfort in her friendship with Themba Ntuli(Bhubesi) a deaf boy training to become an Astronaut. The film also stars veteran actor Pierre Van Pletzen who played ‘Oubass’ in 7de Laan for 17 years before making his exit.
Still, in the month of March, Susters is a story of three adopted sisters who are reunited by their mother’s untimely death. The trio comes together to fulfil their mother’s last wishes. The film features Diaan Lawrenson, Quanita Adams, Leah and Sean Marco Vorster. Ushering us into the month of April is the much anticipated Five Fingers of Marseilles. The film is set in the remote colonial town of Marseilles, where The Five Fingers stand as protectors combating police brutality in the community but after a turn of events Tau (Vuyo Dabula) kills two policemen, flees the town and is caught and incarcerated for 20 years. Upon his release, Tau struggles to reintegrate into the community he once knew, so much has changed including the rest of the Five Fingers entourage. The movie is described as a South African original with western allusions. Vuyo Dabula stars alongside Warren Masemola, Mduduzi Mabaso and Jerry Mofokeng and Zethu Dhlomo.
From Marseilles, we jet off to KZN for a royal Zulu Wedding. Following the postponed release date for Zulu Wedding, fans can officially look forward to the Rom-Com, scheduled for release on 20 April, featuring Pallance Dladla and U.S actor of ‘Soul Food Fame’, Darrin Dewitt Henson. Zulu wedding is centred around a choreographer and dancer named Lou(Nondumiso Tembe), who finds love in the U.S. She avoids going back home where she is promised to a chief as a way to settle an ancestral debt. She is torn between family tradition and a love triangle, what will she do? Audiences can also look forward to yet another wedding ‘gone wrong’ in Wonderlus which is also scheduled for the month of April. The film stars Mila Guy, Lea Vivier and Pieter Edwin van der Walt.
Without a confirmed release date, we are crossing fingers that the independent feature film, The Number directed by Khalo Matabane, starring Warren Masemole, Presley Chweneyagae and Mothusi Magano, will join the list of films showing soon. Local is lekker so go on, treat yourself to a variety of languages, a mixture of culture and a dose of uniquely told South African Stories.
Asinamali: 2 March
Catching Feelings: 9 March
Meerkat Maantuig: 16 March
Susters: 30 March
Five Fingers For Marseilles: 6 April
Zulu Wedding: 20 April
Wonderlus: 27 April