SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Simba Nyamukachi writes… The South African xenophobic attacks of 2008, which resulted in the death of over 60 people, made headlines the world over. This unfortunate slaughter of foreign nationals was the inspiration for Johannesburg-based Akin Omotoso’s second feature film, Man on Ground. Omotoso won the 2007 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year – Film Directing for his debut feature, God is African.
Produced by T.O.M Pictures, 1 Take Media and Rosie Motene Productions, Man on the Ground explores the complex themes of xenophobia, identity, fear and reconciliation.
“The xenophobic attacks generated profound national and continental shock and soul searching,” says writer / director / producer Omotoso. “Man on the Ground is part of this continual reflection and is also a strong appeal for healing to ensure that such killings do not happen again.”
The feature film centres on Ade, a Nigerian-British doctor based in the UK who visits South Africa to see his estranged half-brother Femi. Upon his arrival in South Africa, Ade discovers his brother has been missing for a week. With the help of Femi’s fiancée, Zodwa, Ade investigates his brother’s disappearance. It is soon realised that Femi’s disappearance coincides with a recent period of xenophobic violence. As the truth starts to emerge Ade discovers that Femi is dead but that no-one can account for the body. The search for the body leads Ade to the discovery of the horrific truth about his brother’s death.
Man on Ground, a self-financed and crowd funded feature film, is being produced on an undefined meagre budget. “It’s difficult to put a figure on our budget because we are relying on the generosity of crowd funding,” notes Rosie Motene, one of the producers of the film. “We will have to keep appealing for donations until the project is completed.”
Motene is very positive about crowd funding. “This form of funding is particularly suited to films with a social message. It has been working for years in Europe and the US,” she states. “We are appealing to individuals and companies to contribute anything from R1 000 and in return they will get an associate producer credit or product placement opportunities.”
Crowd funding has become very popular in the South African film industry of late, with many directors opting for this route to finance their productions. “We believe that rather than always waiting for external funding for making art on this continent, we can draw on our collective resources and networks to make films and art works that will both entertain and educate our people,” says Omotoso.
Man On Ground stars Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), Fana Mokoena (Yizo Yizo, Generations, The Lab), Fabian Olojode (Jacob’s Cross) and Bubu Mazibuko (Gaz’lam, Catch A Fire). The film, which has completed principal photography, is hoping to create a buzz at the local and International film festival circuit, starting with premieres at the Toronto Film Festival and the Dubai Film Festival.