Venice, Italy: The ground-breaking isiZulu feature film, Yesterday had a gala premiere at the 61st Venice International Film Festival tonight. In attendance at the event were its lead star, Leleti Khumalo, writer/director Darrell James Roodt, producer Anant Singh and South Africa’s ambassador to Italy, Mr L.M. Shope. Also present were Denzel Washington and acclaimed director Mira Nair. The film which is entirely in isiZulu with English subtitles, evoked an emotional response from the largely Italian audience and ended in a rousing standing ovation.
“We are thrilled that the Venice audience has responded so well to Yesterday,” commented Anant Singh. “The audience was overwhelmed and visibly moved by the film and the language proved to be no barrier. Yesterday‘s strength lies in the fact that it is a universal story that takes one on a journey through one woman’s life and highlights her courage and determination to overcome insurmountable odds.”
Ambassador Shope commented, “The South African Embassy is delighted to be associated with the launch of Yesterday at the Venice Film Festival. The film is really powerful and sends a very strong message of hope. We are also pleased that the Venice Film Festival has a South African Focus this year which is a result of the South African / Italian Co-production Agreement which was signed at Sithengi in Cape Town last November.”
Lead star, Leleti Khumalo said, “It is really exciting for to be in Venice and to see so many people moved by Yesterday. I am proud that we have brought Yesterday to Venice, especially because it is an isiZulu film.”
“Presenting Yesterday at a film festival as prestigious as Venice is really fantastic for our industry,” said writer/director Darrell James Roodt. “It is an achievement to be here with a film from South Africa, more importantly, one in isiZulu. I am pleased that the audience was touched by our film,” continued Roodt.
The lead stars of Collateral, Tom Cruise, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jamie Foxx as well as its director, Michael Mann were declared their support for Yesterday when they met with producer Anant Singh earlier today.
Yesterday stars Leleti Khumalo (Sarafina!), Kenneth Kambule (Backstage, Generations, I Dreamed Of Africa), Harriet Lehabe, Camilla Walker and child star Lihle Mvelase. It is a moving story of a young mother named Yesterday who falls ill and discovers that she is HIV positive. Her husband, a migrant mineworker, refuses to accept this and she is left to fend for herself and her young daughter, Beauty, hoping that she will survive long enough to see Beauty go to school.
Yesterday was released in South Africa today through United International Pictures and is currently showing in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and will soon be showing in additional cities.
Yesterday is a Videovision Entertainment production in association with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, M-Net, The National Film And Video Foundation, Distant Horizon and Exciting Films. Yesterday is executive produced by Sudhir Pragjee and Sanjeev Singh, produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring and written and directed by Darrell James Roodt.