South African short film Lace screens at Cannes

The cast and crew of Lace.


The short film Lace follows Garvey, a man hopelessly in love and planning to pop the question to his girlfriend Vida. However, on the night that he is to propose, tragedy strikes and his world is turned upside down. Unable to move on, Garvey uses technology to replay his last moments with Vida over and over again.

The film stars Enhle Mbali Maphumulo as Vida and Richard Lukunku as Garvey. Lesang Tshoke and Adam Lindberg also feature in the short film.

The result of a 48 Hour Film Project (48 HFP) challenge, Lace is the debut film from Johannesburg-based production company, VIVA Pictures.

Producer Neo Ntlatleng comments: “When we formed VIVA Pictures, we were looking to produce narrative projects, and director, Kgosi [Choene] told me that he would like to enter the 48 Hour Film Project. We felt that making a film in 48 hours would be a great way to get our first film – as a company – under our belt. The success of the film is attributed to the talented cast and crew that offered their weekend and time to make Lace.”

VIVA Pictures was among sixty teams participating in the Johannesburg edition of the contest last year. The challenge was to write, shoot and edit a movie in just two days – over the weekend of 22 to 23 September 2018.

The annual competition takes place in various cities across the world. Participating teams are assigned a genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue, and are to use all four elements to create a film in just 48 hours.

“Just before kick-off time for the 48 Hour Film Project, each crew was given two genres to choose from. We were given sci-fi and film noir, and we decided to go with sci-fi,” shares Ntlatleng. “With Lace, we wanted to showcase the breadth and depth of African cinema. Through the growth of film styles like sci-fi and horror, African cinema is becoming more marketable and bankable from an international perspective,” he added.

Aiming to stay true to their genre and achieve maximum emotional impact, the VIVA Pictures team managed to produce a relatable sci-fi film. Their unique approach paid off when the short film won several awards at the contest including Best Writing, Best Directing, Best Special Effects and Best Actor.

The film went on to represent South Africa at the 2019 Filmapalooza International Film Festival in March this year, which sees the winners of the Best Film award from each city around the world compete on a global stage.

At Filmapalooza, Lace scooped the Best Actress award for Enhle Mbali Maphumulo’s performance as Vida, Best Writing for Kgosi Choene and the writing team, and the film came in second overall in the Best Film category.

Lace was received exceptionally well at Filmapalooza. Out of the 5000 short films that were produced globally for the 48 Hour Film Project in 2018, 130 ‘Best Film’ city winners competed in this year’s festival,” shares Ntlatleng.

Prior to the 48 HFP, director Kgosi Choene had worked with VIVA Pictures on a TV show which won them a SAFTA award. So when he was approached to be part of their team for the 2-day project, he gladly accepted the challenge. “It was an enthralling experience as all of our collective skills as filmmakers were put to the test. The most rewarding aspect was being able to produce a story from scratch in such a short space of time,” shares Choene.

The film was shot on the RED One camera by DOP, Diego Ollivier. “We used the RED One camera for a smooth, clean, futuristic aesthetic and we shot with a steady cam rig to give a handheld vibe to make the story more visceral and intimate,” Choene informs.

Lace is an intimate film that shows viewers the deep connection and playful relationship shared by Garvey and his partner. However, everything takes a surreal turn when the viewer later realises that the story is not projecting real-time events, but is instead a replay of the protagonist’s thoughts.

Choene expands: “Our greatest achievement aesthetically was managing to get the audience to feel as though all of what was happening was in real time and all through the perspective of the protagonist. So, we shot it all in one take and added glitches in post-production to give the desired effect.”

Visual effects were done by Tshwanelo Modise. Editing was handled by Kudakwashe Mpambawashe and sound design was carried out by Leroy Zokufa with the film score composed by Zethu Mashika.

“Because we were working with a science fiction story, we wanted it to seem as though the environment in which the characters are in seemed as ordinary as possible until we find out that it’s a different time in the future. We drew inspiration from Black Mirror which demonstrates the dangers technology can have on normal individuals,” shares Choene.

Lace has been celebrated for bringing a new wave of African storytelling to the fore. The film is currently travelling on the international festival circuit having recently played at the Cannes Film Festival. Lace will also be released online later this year.

“I believe the film will be accepted well, not only due to its take on the sci-fi genre, but also because it has universal themes that include love and loss. South Africa has proven time and again, that it can produce quality films that are of international standards and this was just a showcase of that,” Ntlatleng concludes.


Writers: Kgosi Choene, Richard Lukunku, Neo Ntlatleng, Kudakwashe Mpambawashe

Directors: Kgosi Choene and Linda Radebe

Producers: Sekgametsi Mokoena and Neo Ntlatleng

DOP: Diego Olivier

Editor: Kudakwashe Mpambawashe

Music composer: Zethu Mashika

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Gezzy S. Sibisi is a senior journalist at Screen Africa. She is experienced in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan, and Daily Dispatch publications. As a freelancer, she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.


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