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Big Line-Up of South African Films in Cannes

On the opening of the 63rd Cannes Film International Festival, producer Anant Singh announced that Videovision Entertainment will be presenting a diverse slate of locally produced films, in which the company has participated, at the Festival. Singh and Videovision Entertainment have had a consistent corporate presence in Cannes for almost thirty years. Among the Videovision Entertainment films are The First Grader, and the indigenous South African films, Jozi, Outrageous and My Hunter’s Heart. Also, having its World Premiere in Cannes is The Bang Bang Club which was shot in South Africa.

The First Grader which is inspired by a true story, is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and written by South African-born, Emmy winner Ann Peacock (The Chronicles Of Narnia, Country Of My Skull, Nights In Rodanthe). The film stars Naomie Harris (Ninja Assassin, Pirates Of The Caribbean) together with Oliver Litondo. Set in a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the newly promised free education by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties who is desperate to learn to read at this last stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied – even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six year-olds. The film is a Videovision Entertainment co-production with BBC Films, Sixth Sense Productions and Origin Pictures with support from the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund.

Jozi, which uses the city of Johannesburg as a backdrop for its narrative, is a fresh, innovative comedy. Jozi is directed by Craig Freimond and produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring and Robbie Thorpe. It stars Carl Beukes, Lionel Newton, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Jena Dover, Moshidi Moshegwa and Nick Boraine with a guest appearance by Tobie Cronje. The film has been critically acclaimed with Leon Van Nierop (You / Huisgenoot / Drum) saying, “Finally a South African comedy without cliches and slapstick. Funny, absorbing and clever;” while Debashine Thangevelo (The Star) said, “A traffic jam of converging witty lines in this slice of life comedy that leaves one veering between lanes that straddle tongue-in-cheek humour and surreal drama about surviving Jozi.”

Taking South African stand up comedy to international audiences for the first time is Outrageous, in the style of The Kings Of Comedy. The film sees South Africa’s top stand up comics, John Vlismas, Barry Hilton, Mark Banks, Loyiso Gola, Joey Rasdien, Krijay Govender and Riaad Moosa come together for the first time ever. It is a no-holds barred, adults only stand up comedy experience with the comics featured in the film representing the wide spectrum of comedy styles and a warts- and-all peek at the backstage experience of the comics. Outrageous is produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring and is directed by Bevan Cullinan.

Just completed with the award-winning documentary filmmaking team of Craig and Damon Foster, is My Hunter’s Heart. The film, shot over three and a half years, explores the world’s most ancient shamanic culture and how it is now at the brink of extinction. It tracks the Khomani San of the Central Kalahari, the oldest living indigenous tribe in the world, and who are genetically linked to every human being on planet earth. In modern times, their traditional nomadic way of life has changed and westernisation has severed their link to the land and the animals. The film follows younger members of the clan as they embark on an epic journey to try to recapture some of the knowledge and skills of their ancestors. The children feel there is no future and the elders are faced with haunting reminders of their past. My Hunter’s Heart is produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring, is directed by Craig and Damon Foster. The film is currently being scored by multi-award winner, Trevor Jones.

Told through the eyes of Greg Marinovich, the youngest of the four photographers, The Bang Bang Club is based on the book of the same name, and chronicles his journey from a broken home in a privileged Johannesburg suburb, to Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographer in the heart of the bloodiest combat zones of black South Africa. It the story of four young South African photojournalists who come of age on the front lines of this so-called Hidden War. In a world inclined not to care, their shocking images will shine a light on the unfolding human tragedy in the dying days of apartheid South Africa. The Bang Bang Club is directed by Steven Silver, the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, and Ashley Mulheron. Videovision Entertainment will distribute the film in South Africa.

“We are proud to have the most significant slate ever in Cannes, and to be showcasing South African talent to the world. We look forward to discussing distribution arrangements with the international distributors in Cannes,”commented Anant Singh. “The South African film industry has developed rapidly over the last few years and we, as an industry, are very grateful for the support received from the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Film and Video Foundation, supported by the Department of Arts and Culture. We are also pleased that the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Rob Davies, will be attending the Festival, which is an indication of the importance attached to the film industry,” added Singh.

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