South African cinema made a triumphant entry into the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival last night with the World Premiere of the gripping Truth and Reconciliation Commission drama, Red Dust. In attendance were its stars Oscar Winner, Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry), BAFTA nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things), Jamie Bartlett (Isidingo, Beyond Borders), its director Tom Hooper and its producers Anant Singh, Helena Spring, David Thompson and Ruth Caleb. Red Dust received an overwhelming response from the capacity audience which applauded the stars and the director as the spotlight focussed on them at the end of the screening.
There was also strong in representation of South Africans in attendance, among whom were the Chief Executive of the National Film And Video Foundation, Eddie Mbalo, producer Mfundi Vundla and Industrial Development Corporation executives Moses Silinda and Basil Ford, as well as director, Darrell James Roodt and actress Leleti Khumalo who are at the Festival to present Yesterday (also produced by Anant Singh) which has its North American Premiere tonight in Toronto
“We are delighted with the great response to Red Dust, said producer, Anant Singh. “Red Dust tells one story of the Truth And Reconciliation Commission, but it also represents the tens of thousands of cases that the Commission heard across South Africa and the healing process of the Commission. The Toronto audience were totally engaged by the film. The film is enhanced by great performances of both the international actors and our local actors among whom are Marius Weyers, Ian Roberts and Jamie Bartlett,” added Singh.
Red Dust is an intense, suspense drama set during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings and explores its decisive struggle to heal the wounds of apartheid atrocities. The film masterfully blends powerful characters with serious political and ethical questions about oppression and healing. In the film, African National Congress Member of Parliament Alex Mpondo and human rights lawyer Sarah Barcant find their lives changed forever by a hearing in the small town of Smitsriver.
Early reviews coming out of Toronto have been very positive with Canada’s national daily newspaper declaring, “Red Dust is a nuanced and engrossing court-room drama,” and the Hollywood Reporter said, “The film maintains a lively pace, and the story contains enough twists and turns to sustain interest.”
Directed by Tom Hooper and written by Troy Kennedy-Martin (Italian Job, Bravo Two Zero), Red Dust is a Distant Horizon and BBC Films production in association with Videovision Entertainment and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd and is produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring, David M. Thompson and Ruth Caleb. Red Dust was shot on location in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape and in Johannesburg.
Red Dust will be released in South Africa on 7 January 2005 though United International Pictures.