Long Street, the new film from South African director Revel Fox (The Flyer), releases in selected cinemas on the local circuit on 24 September.
Set in Cape Town, the film is a closely rendered portrait of the fragile relationship between recovering drug addict Sia (Sannie Fox) and her mother Maria (Roberta Fox). This intimate, honest film draws on the real life experience of the director’s own daughter who battled with drug addiction while trying to make it as a musician.
Fox took the unique decision to cast his daughter Sannie and his wife Roberta, both of whom are well known actresses and singers in their own right, to play Sia and Maria. “I wanted to make a film that is both entertaining and helpful to people,’ he says.
In the film Sia and Maria have long stopped trusting each other, and their relationship is a simmering sea of anger and disappointment. At the same time, Sia’s father Wesley (David Butler) is suffering from writer’s block and has a deep desire to reconcile with his daughter and estranged wife, but cannot find a way to express himself.
When a Zulu singer named Andiswa (Busi Mhlongo in one of her last appearances before her death) enters their lives, her commanding presence and musical genius brings the mother and daughter together again. Andiswa uses the healing power of her voice to allow Sia and Maria to forge their relationship anew and discover things they didn’t know about each other and themselves. The result is a poetic, powerful, music-driven film about contemporary middle class ennui in urban South Africa.
Fox continues: “Taking my cue from the music, I wanted to pass on something I had learned, to connect with people who are going through similar experiences. Watching the three women – Busi, Roberta and Sannie – as the story unfolded was an unforgettable experience.’
Cape Town’s iconic Long Street gave the film its name and provides the ideal backdrop for the story about the path a mother and daughter have to travel before they can be reconciled.
“Long Street is the spine of Cape Town,’ says Fox. “It’s where people hang out, where musicians rehearse and perform. I enjoyed blurring the lines between the film and Cape Town itself. The city is the star, so we recorded its secret places, its changing history, its walls and of course the mountain.’
Actress and songwriter Sannie Fox’s blues-rock band Machineri – named a “genre buster’ by the Sunday Times in its recent feature on SA rock – features prominently in the film, as does the music of Busi Mhlongo.
“The highlight of making the film was definitely the opportunity to work with many wonderful musicians, like Busi Mhlongo, Sannie Fox, Leslie Javan, Alex van Heerden and Greg Georgiades. They brought something very unique to it,’ says producer Florian Schattauer.
Schattauer adds that the production values are high, noting that aesthetic and technical elements are of critical importance in this type of film, so a lot of attention was paid to lighting, sound and decor.
“This is an authentic and gently moving film that focuses on issues around family and relationships,’ says Helen Kuun, CEO of local distributor Indigenous Film Distribution. “It’s great to have a film on our slate which speaks directly to women in a contemporary setting and brings three such powerful female characters to the fore.’