One of the films to screen at the Durban International Film Festival in July was The
Forgotten Kingdom, a co-production between Lesotho and South Africa.
Writer and director Andrew Mudge tells the story of a rebellious young man who returns
to Lesotho, the country of his birth, to bury his father and while there, he discovers
love, friendship and an appreciation for his heritage.
Mudge also addresses HIV / Aids in a compassionate way without becoming sentimental
in the manner he relays this powerful sub-plot of his movie.
“I started the process in 2007 when I met Chris Roland of Zen HQ Films. We agreed to
make the film together and from there the other producers signed on in 2010.
“Lesotho is so beautiful and remote. I was drawn to the idea of making a film in this
forgotten country. It’s not just beautiful as in “postcard beautiful’, there’s the aesthetic
of the people and the huts. I thought these images would make great scenes,’
Because Lesotho is a character in the film, some of Mudge’s favourite moments in the
movie are the ones that have no dialogue.
Bonnie Lee Bowman was in charge of the professional casting in Johannesburg. The rest
of the cast was filled out by non-professional actors who were discovered during open
days in Lesotho. Mudge refers to these sessions as “Lesotho Idol’.
“The casting session were open to anybody and we saw almost 2 000 people over three
days and that wasn’t even the kids. It was one of the most enjoyable processes for me
to meet so many cool people and there is no greater feeling than discovering somebody.
That is one of the highlights of being a filmmaker,’ commented Mudge.
He mentioned that not only were they the best actors for the roles but they were the
ones who took the time to get into the script and deal with the characters.
He commented: “In the case of the entire cast, I had that privileged feeling a director
gets when he meets his characters. My greatest challenge in the film was then letting go
of the characters I had created and giving freedom to the actors.
“I describe The Forgotten Kingdom as a love story without a kiss. The characters never
come together in a traditional way,’ said Mudge.
Added Roland: “The thing about this love story is that it doesn’t have a Hollywood
ending. That’s way more interesting for me as a viewer.’
The producers received grants from the US Embassy in Lesotho and in South Africa,
which will give them the opportunity to screen the movie in December.
“I feel so lucky to have been able to make the film that I wanted to make and in the
locations that I wanted to feature, using the actors I wanted to cast. The movie is like
my child and I am really proud of it,’ concluded Mudge.
The movie was shot over 50 days with post-production done by The Refinery in