The 26-year old South African director Oliver Hermanus has had his film Shirley Adams selected for Main Competition by the prestigious Locarno festival which takes place in Switzerland from 5 – 15 August. Locarno is one of the oldest and most established film festivals in the world and has been responsible for discovering the likes of Spike Lee, Milos Foreman, Mike Leigh and Stanley Kubrick.
The film is produced by Michelle Wheatley and Jeremy Nathan (Dv8 Films), Executive Produced by Roland Emmerich and Kirstin Winkler (Centropolis), with Ben Gibson of the London Film School, in association with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the Department of Trade and Industry Rebate Scheme (DTI) and the World Cinema Fund (Berlinale).
Oliver completed his studies at London Film School after receiving a private scholarship from blockbuster film sensation Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot), who is also Executive Producer on Shirley Adams.
Shirley Adams is the story of a mother who struggles to rehabilitate her son after he is paralyzed by a gunshot wound.
“Shirley has been a fantastic filmmaking experience, and I am overwhelmed by the amazing responses we have been receiving’, said Oliver when he heard that his film would be screened at Locarno.
“Shirley Adams was selected for numerous A-list festivals over the last few months and it has been a tough but rewarding experience to decide which festival best suited the film. Locarno offers the film a fantastic platform for launching internationally’, says Wheatley.
“I am very pleased there will be an international audience for this remarkable first feature,’ said London Film School Director Ben Gibson. “It’s remarkable because Oliver is a hugely creative filmmaker with a voice and a style, and also because it’s a South African drama built around a complete character we must know, and not one who has been invented as a political representation of some abstract idea: poverty, discrimination, bereavement. These rare things make it a very powerful film.’
The film stars well known South African actress Denise Newman as Shirley, who claimed this was the hardest performance she has ever had to deliver. Other cast includes Keenan Arrison and a host of excellent Cape Town based actors.
The film will be released by Ster-Kinekor Distribution in January 2010.