Silent film wins Best Film at CT 48 Hour Film Project

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A silent film, The First Week, has won Best Film in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) held in Cape Town on the first weekend of September, securing the new production house Mason Brothers Pictures with their first national film award and two tickets to Seattle, where the film will be screened on the world stage.

Of the 42 entrants that took part, the debut short film clinched six of the awards including best film, best actor (Carel Nel), best cinematography (Chris Lotz), best original score (Philip Pells and Dave Knowles), best sound design (Jonathan Cummings, Yan Sanchez, Gaston Roulstone and Stefan ‘Sparky’ Smuts) and best use of genre as well as nominations for best director and best actress.

“When we started viewing the other films, we realised that we were one of the better films, but we didn’t want to count our proverbial chickens before the awards ceremony,’ said Chris Mason. “Hearing our name being called for Best Film was a celebratory moment. We were very happy. Now we go on to the world stage.’

Organised by Bench Films, the 48HFP requires that film teams write, direct and produce a short film in 48 hours. The competition runs in 140 cities around the world with the winners attending a screening in Filmapalooza in Seattle, and the top ten films selected there are then screened at Cannes.

Chris and Luke Mason form the producer-director-writer duo, while the film featured an extraordinary performance by actor Carel Nel as a deaf man.

This is the first production by Mason Brothers Pictures. Chris Mason participated in last year’s 48HFP and thought it was the perfect vehicle through which to make an award-winning film and launch the business – and with a screening in the US, this should certainly do just that.

The First Week is a haunting, elegant film about a man’s sudden deafness. The team used negative aural space to recreate a deaf person’s world. “We wanted to subvert the genre, by using no sound where there should have been sound,’ says Chris.

The 48HFP requires that teams draw a genre. When the team drew silent film, “there was a mixed bag of emotions,’ he says. “We recognised that it was one of the harder genres to do well, but it also provided a sense of freedom, as you could write whatever story you liked as long as you stayed true to the constraints of the genre.’

The brothers capitalised on their close creative relationship. “Having grown up together, we were creatively on the same page. We didn’t want to do something mediocre. Because our energy was high, our team was able to come the party with the same enthusiasm.’

Chris credits an excellent team “who were all committed to striving towards making something special,’ and the brothers look forward to a successful screening under the bright lights of Seattle.

The 48 Hour Film Project comes to Johannesburg on 14 October and Durban on 4 November 2016.

For more information visit the 48 Hour Film Project website.

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Cera-Jane Catton
Cera-Jane Catton is a writer and journalist with years of experience in community newspapers, blogging and freelance journalism. She has worked in a cache of capacities, often finding herself behind or in front of the cameras, intentionally and less so. She has been a stunt double in two Bollywood movies, has worked in various capacities on a number of natural history documentaries, and other international productions shot in South Africa. Cera is a former Screen Africa journalist.

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