Sumptuous fare from South Africa
A festival of South African films, which showcased the sensitivity and potential of filmmakers there, was held in the city recently. A report.
THE SIX films screened in the city from August 8 to 10, on behalf of the Madras Film Society, jointly with the Consulate General of South Africa, Mumbai, showed that South African cinema is constantly improving. Colonel Qomoyi, Consul General of South Africa in Mumbai, inaugurated the festival. In his address Colonel Qomoyi said India and South Africa have shared similar pain and happiness as both the countries won their freedom through struggle. " Like India, South Africa is also a nation of film loving people and we are proud to show some of the best known films in this package," he said.
"Fools" (above & below) ... this vivid depiction of a school teacher's life also drew attention to burning issues.
The chief guest of the evening, Mr. Mohan Sharma, president, South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, said, "After a long gap we are able to see some of the best known films of South Africa. We must thank the Consul General for giving these films to us".
Filmmaker Mr. Balu Mahendra said he could even now remember some of the films, which he had seen when he was studying in the Institute. "I cannot forget some of the films. "Gods must be Crazy" and "Cry for Freedom" are remarkable pieces of art made on celluloid". Mr. Govindarajan, vice-president, welcomed the gathering and Mr. Mahadevan, secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.
"Chikin Bizniz" was the film shown on the first day after inauguration. It was the best film among the six pictures shown at the festival. It was selected the best English language film at the All-African film awards in 1998. The film won the first prize at the Fespaco film festival. It also got the best actor award for Fats Bookholane, the lead star of the film and best screenplay award at the same film festival, in 1999. It got the best director, best film, and best music director at Avanti awards (SA). It was the best film at the Montreal film festival. "Chikin Biznis" is all about chicken business. How the hero tries his hand at chicken business and burns his hand is shown in a humorous way. He tries to have an affair with a woman whose husband is in jail. How he suffers because of this is also shown with humour. An out and out entertainment oriented film where the hero does justice to his role, it is directed by Ntshaveni Wa Luruli.
"Fools" is an out and out Patrick Shai film. He does the role of a school teacher who rapes a student. How people, particularly the brother of the young student, treat him is the backbone of the story. Directed by Ramadan Suleiman this film won the Silver Leopard award for direction at the Locarno film festival. By using the schoolteacher as the hero, the director draws our attention to the burning issues of South Africa. A film with a purpose.
"Chikin Bizniz" ... the film that has won many an award.
"God is African" by Akin Omotoso is a film with a difference. The issues are dealt with differently. Femi is a Nigerian living in Johannesburg. How he is torn between his birthplace and the place he livesinis told candidly. All the artistes, Hakeem Kae Kazim, Sami Sabiti, Esmeraida Bihi, Hugh Masebenza, Duclu Yende, Phat Joe, Dad Koyana, and Ishmael have acted with ease. The problems Nigerians face is also told in a powerful way.
Winner of the Cannes International film festival award in 1988 and the Australian Human Rights awards in the same year, "Mapansula" is the first anti apartheid feature by, for and about the black South African. When one gets an opportunity what will she/he do? Will he try to work for personal gain or for the betterment of his people? The directors Oliver Schmitz and Thomas Mogotiane answer this question in a visually arresting way. The director Oliver Schmitz, a white South African, has shot the film in Soweto. Thomas Mogotiane acts in the film as the man who indulges ina petty theft and goes to jail where he meets fellow black South Africans and makes them politically aware of their stand. It deals with love and life in the Soweto ghettos. It won seven prizes at the M-Net/AA Vita awards for best film, best director, best actor, best supporting actress, best music, best sound and best script in 1989.
"Mapansula" ... an absorbing feature on the apartheid.
"A drink in the Passage" by Zola Maseko is a screen adaptation of an Alan Paton story. It deals with a black sculptor who drinks with a white family when apartheid was at its the peak. Personal as well as racial segregation is shown in a dramatic way. The film has won the Fespaco Pan African film award and Special Jury prize for its director this year.
Director Sechaba Morolele's short film "Ubuntu's Wounds" is about a black South African, Lebo Manaka, who comes into contact with a white who was in the hit squad and who had killed his wife some years ago. How Lebo and the white policeman see things is told in an explosive drama. Both actors have done the roles neatly. The film won the DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award last year.
S. R. ASHOK KUMAR
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