South African movie selected for North American distribution
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Mon, 03 Mar 2014 15:05
INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: Lizelle de Klerk in Musiek vir die Agtergrond, soon to be seen in North American theatres

Dexter Davis, CEO of New York-based D Street Media Group in the United States, has bought the North American rights to South African Afrikaans-language movie Musiek vir die Agtergrond (Background Music), which was directed and produced by Sallas de Jager of Bosbok Ses Films.

Says Davis: “Sallas’ mentality of making films that could travel outside of South Africa really appealed to me and he wasn’t just playing lip service when we met. He was passionate about this idea and, being American, I could relate because we don’t just make films for the US audience. Our films travel and I believe South African films with great stories and great production value can do the same.”

“The scale in terms of people who watch movies in America is just enormous in comparison with South Africa,” says De Jager. “Dexter and D Street have the same drive as we do at Bosbok Ses films to make and distribute independent films that tell universal stories about real people. This is without a doubt a smaller segment of a market flooded with studio blockbusters and 3D animation films.”

He continues: “I believe that we as South African filmmakers are diamonds in the rough and our biggest advantage is the fact that we are relatively new to the American market – we are bursting with fresh ideas, new locations and new voices. We need people like Dexter to give us an opportunity to polish our craft and learn to present and channel this creative energy in a way that will entertain audiences not only locally and in the US, but all around the world. One has to be realistic as well – this process might take 10 to 20 years, but we’ll take it step by step. If we don’t try, we’ll never know.”

According to Davis, Musiek vir die Agtergrond contains many qualities of an American story. “It deals with people and the choices they make every day when it comes to being an artist and the commercialisation of their work; all while trying to be true to themselves and hopefully keeping their souls intact. I think that theme is pretty universal so why wouldn’t it work in North America?” he says.

Davis says the plan is to open Musiek vir die Agtergrond in New York and Los Angeles and then move on to other key markets in the country that may have a sizeable Afrikaans community. “We aren’t just banking on South African expats but we sure would be doing the film a disservice if this wasn’t part of our strategy,” emphasises De Jager.

Davis says: “Sallas has a real world view and his ability to look beyond the borders of South Africa is very refreshing. He has a vision, works extremely well with actors and has just the right business acumen to take him far.”

“We have creative ambitions to make a few good films together over the next decade. Whenever possible, we want to film in South Africa or, if and when a particular story doesn’t allow for that, I’ll be allowed to use South African talent (cast and crew) as much as possible,” concludes De Jager.

Upcoming feature film, Lone Hill, a co-production between the two companies, commences shooting at the end of March with De Jager at the helm, who says the film is a small but powerful family drama similar to Ordinary People and Revolution Road.

Attached to star is South African actor Neil Sandilands and model and actress Nicola Breytenbach.

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