South African co-production The Forgotten Kingdom wins international awards


Director of photography Carlos Carvalho has won the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography at the 14th annual Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Awards Gala held in New York for The Forgotten Kingdom, the first feature film produced in Lesotho.

The Forgotten Kingdom, directed by Andrew Mudge, tells the story of Atang Mokoeyna, an unemployed young man who lives in Johannesburg and travels home to Lesotho, his ancestral land, to bury his estranged father. Once there, Atang is drawn to the magical beauty and hardships of the country and people he had left behind and forgotten.

Haskell Wexler, an American cinematographer, film producer, and director who was named as one of film history’s 10 most influential cinematographers by the International Cinematographers Guild, presented the award to Carvalho and said the tough city slum shooting in the film has the realistic edge of a documentary, while the camera moves are smooth and there are sometimes painterly frames as part of a transition to the lead characters memories of rural youth.

“The first frame is a lone man on a cliff,’ Wexler commented. “A distant, beautiful shot valid as a still, then after a beat of six the man moves out of frame. A visual transition to the urban. There are strong other world, even mystical images at the remote mountain village. The picture involves the main character in what one viewer describes as “the mystical beauty and hardships of the people’.

“Carlos Carvalho is a first class shooter well deserving of this award,’ continued Wexler. “I hope the Woodstock recognition will encourage him to continue pursuing his artful career doing features like The Forgotten Kingdom where the story he tells is as integrated and important as how you tell it.’

As his prize, Carvalho receives $15,000 worth of film camera equipment rental from Panavision in New York. Other nominees in the cinematography category were Justin Chin for Purgatorio, Sean Porter for It Felt Like Love, and Yasu Tanida for The Retrieval.

The winning cinematographer joined the film industry as a runner in 1992 after studying photography at the Port Elizabeth Technikon. Carvalho has won several other awards and works on TV commercials, feature films, documentaries and corporate infomercials.

At the festival, The Forgotten Kingdom also won the Jury Award for Best Feature Narrative and the award for Best Editing of a Feature Narrative.

Said producer Chris Roland of ZenHQ Films in Cape Town: “The Forgotten Kingdom is a profoundly visual story. The first film ever to be produced in Lesotho, it’s a charming and captivating quest steeped in the history and culture of the Basotho people. We congratulate Carlos Carvalho on this significant win.’

The Forgotten Kingdom screens nationwide in South Africa from 11 April through Indigenous Film Distribution.


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