Otelo Burning, the new film by South African director Sara Blecher (Surfing Soweto) is the first in the local film industry to create a mix tape of music both from the film and inspired by its mood and themes, available for free download.
The collection of 13 songs includes some of the latest tracks from South Africa’s top hip hop and fusion artists, as well as inserts of memorable dialogue from Otelo Burning, which opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday 11 May.
The mix tape is compiled and produced by Tumi Molekane, MC, poet and lead singer of the well-known hip hop band Tumi and the Volume.
Molekane compiled the mix tape through his label, Motif Records, together with Instro, Motif’s resident sound engineer and music producer. The selection features songs from Tumi and the Volume, as well as exciting artists like Zaki Ibrahim, Reason, The Fridge, Bhubesii’s Take Away and Samthing Soweto.
“It’s a mixed non-linear audio narrative of the ideas that live in the movie,’ says Molekane. “Dialogue from the movie is weaved throughout the soundtrack into one continuous musical flow. It’s a format that’s popular with radio stations, podcasters, Mixtape DJs and listeners alike. It works brilliantly for a soundtrack of this nature because it’s a super cool compilation of songs that also does the job of translating a skilfully woven story into something that we can consume as listeners.’
“Otelo Burning is a young, sexy, coming of age story,’ says director Blecher, “It’s one that’s never been shown on the big screen before.’
“The idea of young black kids surfing in the mid-80s is striking, unique and so local. The mix tape comprises music from the film that captures the spirit of the time, while the new, more modern tracks give the story a great contemporary edge.’
“Otelo Burning is set in 1989, against a backdrop of brewing conflict between two political groups in Lamontville. When 16-year-old Otelo Buthelezi takes to the water for the first time, it’s clear that he was born to surf. This is a beautifully made, insightful and entertaining film that captures a turbulent time in the history of South Africa,’ says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film in the country.
The movie was conceived when Blecher met Sihle Xaba, a senior lifeguard at Durban beach and a champion body boarder and lifeguard.
From him she learned that almost 90% of Zulu lifeguards at the Durban beachfront came from the tiny township of Lamontville.
“Otelo Burning is a film about South African youth and the mix tape really brings the story to life in a way that people today can totally relate to,’ says Kuun. “It brings to the screen a piece of our history in a sexy, fresh and entertaining way, and the music plays a key role in achieving that.’
The mix tape is available as a free download from 2 April only at www.oteloburning.com and is not for sale.