The screen adaptation of Athol Fugard’s classic play, Master Harold and the Boys, won the Audience Choice award at the recent Cape Winelands Film Festival in Stellenbosch. This was the film’s world premiere.
Starring Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction) and Patrick Mofokeng (The Good Provider), the film was directed by American Lonny Price, who played the lead role of “Hally’ in the orginal Broadway production nearly 30 years ago.
South African actor/writer Nicky Rebelo (who also stars in the film) was approached some years ago by Fugard to adapt the play for the screen. Says Rebelo: “I was honoured that a man I believe to be not only South Africa’s best playwrite but also a writer with a great international reputation felt he could entrust me with the task. At the same time I knew it would be a huge challenge to turn his stage play into a feature film.’
Master Harold and the Boys is, by Fugard’s own admission, the most autobiographical of his plays. Partly a heart-wrenching rite of passage for a teenage white boy growing up in apartheid South Africa, the film also shows how institutionalised bigotry can be absorbed by those who live under it and how human relationships can be put to the test by public and personal forces.
The film was produced by Nelle Nugent, Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat, Michael Auret and David Pupkewitz.
Goodman-Bhyat believes that the film’s powerful intimacy makes it unique film for today’s audiences, “We are so hung up with the world of superhero and CGI films that it is rare to make a quiet film that hangs on the strength of emotion and great performances. It’s the writing and the moving story that really grips you from the first moment and doesn’t let you go. It’s a personal tale about the tension between a father and son, and the role of a surrogate father.’
Cinematography was by Lance Gewer, production design by Tom Gubb and editing by Ronelle Loots.