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Gezzy S Sibisi

Gezzy S Sibisi
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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.

Gauteng Department of Economic Development launches IP conference for creative industries

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

In an effort to increase awareness and understanding on the concept, scope and nature of intellectual property (IP), the Gauteng Department of Economic Development and its steering committee partnered with the Association of Independent Recording Companies of South Africa to host the first Gauteng Creative Industries IP Conference.

Chairman of the Gauteng Creative Industry Public Sector Steering Committee, Francina Nstimane, expands: “Our joint vision is to use the conference as a platform to identify intellectual property knowledge gaps among concept developers, content developers and content/concept owners in the creative sector and identify tools to bridge those gaps.”

The two-day event, which ran from 6 to 7 February 2020, was held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, Johannesburg.

At the inaugural event, the focus was on the four key creative industries that generate the largest revenue streams in the country – film, animation, craft and music – and the IP issues faced by these industries.

The first day of the conference commenced with an introduction to IP, using Solomon Linda’s song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,as a case study. The song, which was composed and recorded by Linda, a Zulu singer and hunter, in 1939, became a worldwide sensation with at least 150 cover versions thanks to the popular Disney movie, The Lion King.

“IP is a crucial element in any SMME,” stressed Nstimane. “The ownership of content assets is what makes it possible to license concepts or the use of creative products in exchange for royalties. Therefore, if we do not start to find tools to assist artists to gain knowledge on how to own what they create, the current trend of IP theft will continue leaving artists to die without enjoying the fruits of their labour,” she added.

An overview of the different forms of intellectual property – namely patent, trademark, design and copyright – were presented by the deputy chairperson of Association of Independent Recording Companies (AIRCO), Stanley Khoza. The presentation was followed by break-away sessions hosted by AIRCO, Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO), Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), the Gauteng Film Commission and Animation SA.

The purpose of these breakaway sessions was to provide participants with a clear understanding of the specific IP challenges faced by their industry. Industry sessions were facilitated by consultants from the aforementioned organisations and guest speakers.

Nstimane expands: “In each session, there was a focus on the current legislative processes and how the outcomes of these processes will either build or destroy the growth in each sub-sector. There were discussions on contracting and various legal options available in case of a copyright dispute. Another significant focus was that of evaluating what happens to IP concepts throughout the four value chains as a concept moves from one step to the other.”

Nick Cloete, chairman of Animation South Africa (ASA), led the animation session and invited guest speaker Stephen Hollis from Adams & Adams to speak on the value of IP and how copyright protection and enforcement will be affected if the current draft of the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performance Rights Bill were to succeed.

Hollis expanded on the implications of any changes to the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performance Rights Bill​, including concerns that the bills have not been adapted to provide protection in the digital space.​

Cloete gave practical insight into how these laws would affect the various business models, including the lack of legislation alignment between domestic IP legislation and global legislations.​

“We need to demystify and simplify legislation without losing any complexity, so it’s more readily accessible for professionals,” asserted Cloete. “It may be useful for the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to commission explainer videos of copyright law so it’s easier to understand for those who don’t understand it,” he added.

Unathi Malunga, a writer, publisher and entertainment lawyer, led and facilitated the session targeted at the film industry. In her presentation, Malunga went through the purpose of IP, with a focus on what happens to IP as it moves throughout the entire production value chain.

A wide variety of discussions and concerns arose from Malunga’s presentation, such as ​ the duration and expiry of copyright, access to information on IP and access to professional services.

Speaking about her session, Malunga said: “The response was amazing and people expressed how much the session really, really, opened their eyes.

“People are hungry to learn about this area. I have started writing a series of books to educate this industry – the problem has been taking the time off to write. I need to complete them as soon as possible and get them out for people!” she added.

Malunga also said that more needs to be done by the government to ensure that people are educated about IP legislature in the creative industries. “We cannot be having high-level discussions without the foundation being in place. All government and other sources of funding have focused on the creative and production process – nobody is investing in the professional services underpinning this industry and ensuring that people are educated about it. I have spoken and spoken to the government institutions at length about this but there has been no progress,” Malunga concludes.

Inside the making of virtual reality film, Azibuye – The Occupation

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

It’s not a secret that the issue of land redistribution remains a contentious and highly emotional subject in post-Apartheid South Africa.

According to South Africa’s land audit of 2017, black South Africans – who constitute 79 percent of the country’s population – own just one percent of the country’s rural land and seven percent of urban property. This is while white South Africans make up only nine percent of the population, but own more than 23.6 percent of the country’s rural land and 11.4 percent of the land in urban areas.

As a result, thousands of homeless South African people of colour are illegally occupying empty privately-owned homes and developments.

The virtual reality (VR) film Azibuye – The Occupation follows the journey of two homeless people, Masello and Evan, in 360° view, as they take up residence in a vacant home in an affluent area in Johannesburg. As luck would have it, the pair discovers a crumbling mansion that has been vacant for nearly 20 years. They settle into their new home and proclaim their illegal occupation to be an artistic and political act in retaliation to the ongoing land redistribution issue.

The themes explored in the film include colonialism, dispossession, decolonisation and the role that art plays in addressing these issues.

According to Masello and Evan, the house is estimated to have been standing empty for 20 years. Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Dylan Valley, expands: “I know Masello and Evan socially, through friends. The film is very much about the journey of this particular occupation, how they made this abandoned house livable, and the dilemma they face when they meet the owner of the house.” According to Masello and Evan, the house is estimated to have been standing empty for 20 years.

The virtual reality film also delves into the backstories of the two occupants, revealing Masello as a well-known actress and Evan as a trade unionist. “To me, they represent the long history of activism and self-organisation in South Africa, as well as protest art – as they also view their occupation as an installation of sorts. It’s hard to mention the underlying issues in the film without getting into spoilers, but I hope the film challenges viewers’ assumptions about the issues and the characters,” says Valley.

Valley is an associate lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, an editorial board member at Africa is a Country and an Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity 2019. He has been a commissioning editor for the South Africa Broadcasting Company (SABC) and has directed several pieces for Al Jazeera.

Valley’s documentary style is a mix of music, art and performance that tells compelling stories about real people with a social justice focus. “Trying to correct some sense of social injustice or misunderstood story very much informs the subjects I choose. My work tends to slant towards a racial equity lens, so the subjects I cover fall very much underneath this banner,” he explains.

Using VR technology to tell immersive stories

It was only in 2017, while watching VR films at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, that Valley imagined the extensive immersive possibilities that VR could add to his own documentary filmmaking career.

“VR is still new here, and that’s a good thing. There aren’t many ‘experts’ and it’s a great time for experimentation and play. I am particularly interested in the possibilities that these emerging technologies can offer to black filmmakers,” he shares.

The search for more immersive experiences led Valley to Electric South, a Pan-African immersive media production studio. The Cape Town-based studio provides mentorship, production services, funding and exhibitions for a network of artists across Africa to explore their subject-matter through immersive, interactive stories including virtual and augmented reality.

A sponsorship agreement between Electric South and Facebook/Oculus saw Valley and other participants receive headsets and guidance in order to undertake their VR/AR projects.

Cultural producer at Electric South, Kirstin Erasmus comments: “Immersive storytelling on the continent is climbing at a steady pace. Globally it is still in its infancy but, as knowledge about the industry grows, equipment and resources become more readily available and the opportunities present themselves. Those in the know are really excited about the possibilities of immersive storytelling, as it gives us as Africans the rare opportunity to curate and own our own stories.”  

Azibuye was shot in April 2019 on the Insta360 Pro camera, which films well in 8K and 3D; Zoom recorders were used for sound.

“I wanted the viewer to feel like they were participants in the occupation. I was going for a very naturalistic documentary feeling and static 360 shots,” informs Valley. “I wanted to create a contemplative and reflective mood as the characters are talking about some complex socio-historical issues such as colonialism, laws of dispossession, Apartheid, etc. – and so the long, static takes in time-ravaged spaces helped with that.”

“Because we were in one location, the shoot was smooth sailing. In terms of the storytelling, we wanted to interview the owner of the house, which was challenging for a number of reasons – but we managed to get the interview in the end!” exclaims Valley.

Representing South Africa at Sundance

The film was produced by Caitlin Robinson under the direction of Valley, with editing done by Stephen Abbott. Post-production duties were handled by Yoav Dagan and Samukelo Mahlalela.

Since its completion, Azibuye has garnered much international attention and became the first South African film to be selected as part of Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier Exhibitions programme.

“It’s a huge honour and I’m incredibly humbled by being included in Sundance 2020,” says Valley. “Making films is incredibly hard (as any filmmaker reading this will attest to), and so these kinds of acknowledgements are great affirmations that help to keep us going,” he concludes.

Key crew

Executive Producers: Ingrid Kopp and Steven Markovitz

Producer: Caitlin Robinson

Director: Dylan Valley

Editor: Stephen Abbott

Behind the scenes on Triggerfish-animated Zog

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

UK-based production company Magic Light Pictures recently released a film adaptation of the much-loved 2010 picture book, Zog, animated in South Africa by Triggerfish.

Zog is based on the book by the Gruffalo team, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and is about a young dragon that is at Dragon School, learning to fly, breath fire and basically become a holy terror!” explains Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the short film.

However, student life comes with a lot of challenges for the keen but accident-prone dragon: “He’s super enthusiastic, but has no talent and ends up hurting himself every time he tries his hand at something new. The book is about how an unusual friendship changes his life and his dream for the better,” says Snaddon. 

Triggerfish Animation Studios has an ongoing relationship with publishing duo Donaldson and Scheffler and the Gruffalo team, which is managed by Magic Light Pictures. This partnership has produced award-winning film adaptations of other popular children’s books including Stick Man, Revolting Rhymes and The Highway Rat.

“My directing partner Max Lang pitched Zog to Magic Light Pictures in 2012. Of all the more recent books by Donaldson and Scheffler, he thought it would make a great film, as the characters and their journeys were very clear and relatable,” says Snaddon.

According to Snaddon, the concept for the film started taking shape in mid-2017, with he and Lang working together on the storyboards. The pair then sought various artists from South Africa and the UK to work on the project. “Our art director was Sarah-Jane Williams who was key in bringing the hand-made feel to the design and surfaces of Zog’s world. Daniel Clarke, Caroline Vos and Stephen Howard-Tripp were the concept artists. Andrew Wilkins oversaw modelling, while Darren Hing and Roxanne Joyner oversaw surfacing,” he says.

Zog took just over a year and a half to produce, with animation director Jac Hamman overseeing the 17 animators that brought the characters to life. Samantha Cutler was the lead character modeller and Malcolm van Aardnt managed the rigging of over 30 characters for the film.

Zog was produced using Maya, Arnold and Nuke, with additional VFX work done through a plugin called Phoenix FD – which was used to generate fire and smoke effects in some scenes. Kane Croudace, Faghrie Coenraad and James Bihl were the technical leads and Sue Mari-Sauer headed up VFX. “Everything was then brought together by Sarah Scrimgeour and her superb compositing team,” says Snaddon.

“Kaya Kuhn was our line producer, and though she was new to animation, she did an amazing job of planning and executing the production at Triggerfish,” adds Snaddon. “Aninka Jonk, Laura Irvine and Clare Savage did a great job of running the team on the ground.”

Zog has since travelled to a number of international festivals including the Shanghai International TV Festival, where it won the Best Animation Award, and the New York International Children’s Film Festival, where it earned the Audience Award.

The film recently bagged an International Emmy nomination in the Best Kids’ Animation category and will compete against films from France, Brazil and India. The winning film will be announced on 31 March 2020 at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Speaking about the nomination, Snaddon says: “We are thrilled, and hope that we win! I’m also really happy and proud of our team, as on Zog we had fewer resources than we did on previous projects and we still managed to pull off something really world class.”

The film had its television premiere on BBC 1 for UK viewers, and is now streaming on South African streaming service Showmax. Zog can also be ordered on DVD through Amazon.

Snaddon and his team at Triggerfish are thrilled that South African viewers can now get to watch the animated film and hope that the heart-warming tale reaches more audiences. “Zog was originally a BBC and ZDF (Germany) co-production. I’m thrilled that Zog is streaming on Showmax and I’d also love Zog to eventually show on national TV, and for either the SABC or kykNET to get some translations going!” he concludes.

KEY CREW

  • Writers: Julia Donaldson, Max Lang, Suzanne Lang, Axel Scheffler
  • Directors: Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon
  • Producer: Mike Buckland, Martin Pope, Michael Rose Sound: René Aubry         
  • Editor: Robin Sales
  • Sound: René Aubry

BTS of Toya De Lazy’s Funani music video with director Kyle Lewis

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

South Africa-born musician Toya De Lazy was first introduced to acclaimed director Kyle Lewis’s bold aesthetic style in 2014, when he produced the colourful music video for her hit single Forbidden Fruit. Since then, the artists have remained great friends and worked on several other projects together.

Now based in London, Toya has reinvented her sound to a newly-formed genre called Afro-Rave – a combination of African beats and contemporary British sounds like garage, bassline and grime. Toya debuts her fresh new look and sound in a music video for her new song Funani, directed by Lewis.

According to Toya, the song is about embracing yourself to the fullest while also reclaiming your culture and language. Lewis is known for having a hands-on approach with regard to art direction – this includes the designing and making of props and décor, as well as lending a hand in the costume department – and it was no different with the video for Funani. The result is a bold visual explosion that celebrates Toya’s edgy artistic sound and cultural identity, and could easily be mistaken for a fashion film.

Eccentric fashion designer, Blünke Janse van Rensburg, who is also known as an advocate for self-acceptance, offered some of her first-year varsity pieces to Lewis and his team to work with on the video. Additionally, a crotchet ‘wander-piece’ was made and supplied by stylist Thom van Dyk. Lewis and his team put together all the props and décor, including the eye masks, intricate headgear and comical sock puppets.

“Kyle has to be given the credit here – he made 95 per cent of the props and accessories you see on the screen. We’d be having Skype meetings while he was glue gunning eyes to shoes!” comments producer, Vjorn du Toit. “As adults, we’ve forgotten to a large extent how to play and imagine. I love how if you look at the video closely, it is everyday washing up gloves, hair curlers, etc. which Kyle has given life to.”

Between Lewis’s busy work schedule and Toya making the trip from London to Johannesburg, the art direction team had just one week to prepare everything needed for the shoot. “Kyle had the concept for a while now, he was just waiting for a gap in his schedule to shoot it. Once he did, he phoned up Toya, told her his vision and asked how soon she could be in SA. A week later we were shooting in Tembisa, Johannesburg,” shares du Toit.

Funani was shot by cinematographer Rick Joaquim on the Arri Alexa Mini with Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses. “Kyle knew from the start that he wanted to go over-the-top with the art direction and wardrobe… So I did the same with the camera,” says Joaquim. “We shot most of the video handheld but then also over-cranked the camera at times and messed with a higher shutter speed, which gives Toya that robotic and animated feeling in parts of the track.”

Joaquim says that while Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses “are amazing”, they aren’t always the easiest to shoot handheld with due to their size, “but they render skin tones beautifully and flare wonderfully,” he adds. “I lived mostly on my Easyrig Vario 5 with Flowcine Serene to help with the weight.”

The video was shot on a sunny day in Tembisa, with a small crew working hard to maximise the use of natural light as best as possible. “I still lit the talent and dancers with a mindset of ‘fashion’ or ‘beauty lighting’. I embraced their beautiful skin tones using softer sources or bounced light to pull out the reflection in darker and stunning skin tones,” says Joaquim. “When dealing with harsh sunlight I’ve seen others lose the details of faces. So I wanted to make sure we kept that in.”

Since the release of the Funani music video it’s garnered over 49,000 views on YouTube, with local and international fans clearly enjoying Toya’s new look and sound, leaving comments including “sick visuals”, “lit dance moves” and “fresh sounds” to name a few.

“We make music videos for the art and enjoyment factor. We want to wow the audience and for ourselves walk away feeling like we made something special,” du Toit concludes.

KEY CREW
Director: Kyle Lewis
Producer: Vjorn du Toit
DOP: Rick Joaquim
Technical Team: Dean Hibbert, WP Haak, Tyler Geldenhuys

Inside the making of Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Regarded as the boxing mecca of South Africa: Mdantsane township has produced over 17 boxing world champions since 1994.

Award-winning filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka grew up in Mdantsane, and for him – like many young people living in the vast and poor Eastern Cape township – boxing remains a treasured sport. “I have always loved boxing. Growing up in Mdantsane you cannot avoid it as it permeates most aspects of that society’s day-to-day grind. I grew up amongst pugilists and a lot of them were hardly average prize-fighters. These guys were some of the best in the world and yet here they were roaming the streets of my hood,” comments Qubeka.

Produced by Yellowbone Entertainment for Mzansi Magic as part of the channel’s premium film package, Knuckle City delves into the mindset of a fighter and provides an authentic glimpse into street life in one of the oldest and largest townships in the country. Written and directed by Qubeka alongside producer and editor Layla Swart, the film explores themes of toxic masculinity, wasted dreams and fractured family ties.

Knuckle City as a concept has been gestating in my head and heart for years,” explains Qubeka. “It was not until Layla and I became partners that the project blossomed and found a home at Mzansi Magic, who were determined to enter the premium feature film market with some prestige projects. In the Mzansi Magic team we found partners who shared our desire to grow indigenous cinema-going audiences.”

As part of the research phase of the film, Qubeka immersed himself into the lives of some of the country’s greatest boxers and their families. He and his team worked with several boxers from the region alongside the acting talent. “It was not difficult for me to delve into the required research because I already have such a passion for the sport,” explains Qubeka. “We reached out to a lot of professionals for assistance and many of them came to the party. From the likes of trainer extraordinaire, Vido Madikane, to current world champion Xolani Tete’s stable, where I had the honour of working with the likes of former SA champion Loyiso Mtya and former two-time world champion ‘Showtime’ Yekeni,” he adds.

In the film, lead character Dudu Nyakama, played by Bongile Mantsai (Inxeba: The Wound), is a down-and-out ageing boxer who is adamant that his days of throwing punches are still far from over.

There are three ways out of Knuckle City – through the ring, in the back of a cop car, or in a pine box. Nyakama’s days are numbered in the boxing ring, and – as a last resort – he enlists the help of his criminal brother, Duke Nyakama. Together, they fight against all odds to make it through the ring but are haunted by the ghost of their father. Dudu soon realises that his unresolved inner conflict and fractured family life is far more challenging than any opponent he can possibly face in the boxing ring.

Speaking about the Dudu character, Qubeka says: “It is an honest portrayal of a man on a downward spiral perpetuated by toxic habits he picked up from his own father. His struggle is one that most adult males are faced with today. The ironic part of it all is that despite the extreme level of discipline that the main protagonist applies to his daily training regime, he ultimately fails to put it to use in his home life.”

To prepare for the role, Mantasi was trained by the great Xolani Tete at his boxing academy. Qubeka expands: “I knew of no better place than to throw him into the lion’s den that is Mdantsane, and thanks to Xolani Tete’s Last Born Boxing stable, he trained with champions.”

Knuckle City is shot in Mdantsane township and in the Buffalo City metro. The film marks the first production to partner with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.

To further incorporate the community of Mdantsane and East London into the production, locals were given the opportunity to rent out their properties to the crew for the duration of the shoot. Furthermore, budding actors and aspiring filmmakers assisted the crew behind-the-scenes as well as on-screen as extras.

“Making the film was definitely a homecoming for me,” affirms Qubeka. “Having grown up in the same streets that I was now shooting a major motion picture in was exhilarating. The support and love we got from the people of Mdantsane and Buffalo City was amazing and deeply humbling. It was evident right from the get-go that the community was making this film with us.”

Knuckle City was shot in 21 days, with DoP Willie Nel capturing the visuals on an Arri Alexa Mini with Zeiss Master anamorphics, “with an incredibly wide 1:66 aspect ratio,” says Qubeka.

For the fight sequences, Qubeka wanted to give viewers an immersive experience so they would feel as though they were inside the ring with the fighters. For this, he says he drew inspiration from PlayStation fighting games. “I wanted to give viewers a visceral experience of what it’s like to be punched repeatedly. So choreographing the fights I referenced an old PlayStation game called Fight Night. In it, there is a point of view mode that gives you a really dynamic perspective of being the actual fighter in the ring. I applied the same technique to the cinematography and the results have been splendid.”

In post-production, Layla Swart edited the film while Bladeworks handled online. The sound was done by Guy Steer and final grading completed by Craig Simonetti.

Knuckle City had its local premiere at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in July as the opening night film and its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September this year.

The film is distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution (IFD) and internationally by AAA Entertainment.

Qubeka says that he can’t wait for South Africans to view the film and for the people of Mdantsane to get an opportunity to see what they were so intrinsically a part of. “I’m hoping audiences will see how we have all had a role to play in the propping up of what I term the ‘pseudo identity of the macho man’ that is shaped around toxic habits and ways of being,” he concludes.

Knuckle City will be releasing in local cinemas on 28 February.

Watch the trailer.

KEY CREW

Writer/director: Jahmil Swart

Producer/editor: Layla Swart: Producer

DOP: Willie Nel

Sound: Guy Steer

Ernest Nkosi spotlights SA’s car spinning culture in An Ordinary People

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Picture this: a cloud of smoke, the sound of tyres screeching and a mesmerised crowd. A late-80s BMW, colloquially known as the Gusheshe, spins at high speed with the driver hanging out the car window. This is not a film stunt but a thrilling sport in South Africa, popularly known as spinning.

Filmmaker Ernest Nkosi is a passionate promoter of the electrifying sport of spinning. His first production featuring the sport was South Africa’s first televised car spinning competition, So You Think You Can Spin, in 2016.

So You Think You Can Spin was a 13-part competition TV series that tested drivers through various obstacles with knockout courses till a top-six and an audience vote to determine an eventual winner,” comments Nkosi.

The series was pitched under the Monarchy Group by Nkosi to free-to-air channel e.tv. From October to December 2016, So You Think You Can Spin garnered almost a million viewers per episode. The thrilling show put the controversial world of spinning in the spotlight and forced the public to rethink the negative connotations often associated with the sport.

Car spinning is legal and has been officially recognised by the country’s regulatory body for all motorsport, Motorsport South Africa (MSA), since 2010. The sport has also been endorsed by the World of Motorsport South Africa (WOMZA) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) since 2014.

“Spinning now happens in big arenas under controlled conditions, attracting audiences of over 15 million people annually, making it the biggest motorsport in the country,” Nkosi shares. Furthermore, there is a growing interest of the sport beyond our borders with the great possibility of the industry going mainstream.

Nkosi’s latest production, the documentary An Ordinary People, is an in-depth account of the sport of spinning and the subcultural elements that have emerged from different parts of the country. “An Ordinary People is a feature-length documentary film that traces the cultural origins and follows some of the culture’s elite practitioners. The backdrop is wisdom from freedom fighters of yesteryear,” says Nkosi.

Principal photography on the film commenced after the completion of the So You Think You Can Spin TV series in 2016. The film has been a work-in-progress project for almost four years and only officially wrapped in June this year.

Nkosi is the writer and director of the film; he worked alongside Nhlane Enos Manthata and Thato Dhladla to produce the film. Speaking about the film’s production journey, Nkosi says: “There were challenges but none bigger than the mental one. How do you stay motivated to see something through from start to finish? It’s almost four years later from the first day of production. How you overcome this is with a solid team and like-minded talented individuals that believe they can move the needle forward when it comes to this film stuff.”

Much like the television series, Nkosi and his team travelled across the country as well as to neighbouring countries, including Namibia and Swaziland, to gain a better understanding of the impact and popularity of the sport over the years. 

“Research was key to making the film,” highlights Nkosi. “We immersed ourselves in the culture, travelling the country and neighbouring countries, getting to know the scene and state of the culture and finding the respective regions’ most talented drivers and stuntmen.”

Professional spinners and sportsmen featured in the film include So You Think You Can Spin season one winner Samkeliso “Sam Sam” Thubane; Mpumalanga wheel spinners (and brothers) Muzi and Myboet Thubane; as well as other profiled acts such as Lefa “Lentja” Motloung, Bradleigh “Skopas” McGregor, Mckeenan “Troubles” du Plessis, Anele “Muzi” Mbuqe and Kaylin “Kayla” Oliphant. According to Nkosi, there are over 3,000 registered professional drivers and stuntmen: the industry is thriving and the state of the sport and culture has never been better.

An Ordinary People was shot over three and a half years and spent nine months in post-production. Nkosi says that the film has an “enhanced reality” look and feel, with “no CGI… no gimmicks.”

Cinematographers Motheo Moeng and Nyembezi Ncaba shot the film on the flexible Sony FS7 camera as well as the popular action GoPro Hero4 camera. Editing was done by James O’ Sullivan and music was supplied by Mpho Nthangeni and Banele Mtwa. Post-production duties included sound design and final mix by Sterling Sound and Beyond Sound, then grading by Comfort & Frame.

An Ordinary People has been selected as the opening film at the 8th annual Jozi Film Festival (JFF), which takes place from 3 October until 6 October 2019. The first time Nkosi showcased at JFF was in 2015, when he presented his first feature film Thina Sobabili which won the Audience Choice Award and soared to success. “My career highlights are definitely getting to compete for an Oscar and Golden Globe with our first feature film, Thina Sobabili, that journey was incredible,” recalls Nkosi fondly.

Since then, Nkosi has built a solid professional relationship with the founder of JFF, Lisa Henry, and volunteered his time and skills on previous editions of the festival. Henry remembers her first encounter with the filmmaker: “I first met Ernest when he submitted his film Thina Sobabili to JFF. I loved the film and recognised his talent but didn’t know his film was a student film until we met – that made it even more impressive.”

“His new film is billed as a private screening/free screening as it is in the running for a few big international film festivals which require World Premiere status. We hope this happens for him and his team and we’re delighted to give Jozi audiences a first look,” adds Henry.

“Lisa Henry is a visionary and genius. She came through to a test screening, we were having for the film and figured out a way for us to show the film while still making tweaks to it… so I will forever be grateful to her and the people at Jozi Film Festival,” comments Nkosi.

Nkosi and his team have started submitting the film to some of the world’s most influential festivals and they are hopeful for positive feedback. “I think the film will resonate with audiences locally and internationally because we were honest in the making of the film. The culture demands authenticity, the characters are real, the action is real – and if you tell the truth in your work, it’s bound to fall on fertile soil,” Nkosi concludes.

KEY CREW

Writer and director: Ernest Nkosi

Producer: Nhlane Enos Manthata, Thato Dhladla and Ernest Nkosi.

DOP: Motheo Moeng (SASC) and Nyembezi Ncaba

Editor: James O’ Sullivan

Sound: Mpho Nthangeni and Banele Mtwa

ARB rules against Toyota advert

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Regarded as the wittiest car ad of 2019, the Toyota Hilux GR-Sport commercial – featuring three endearing meerkats – was created by creative agency, FCB Joburg.

The much-loved ad has been a hot topic of debate after two complaints were laid against Toyota South Africa with the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA).

The first complainant, David Lazarus, argued that the commercial encourages illegal driving on sand dunes, while Louise McIntosh claimed that Toyota promoted off-road driving that is harmful to nature.

The Advertising Regulation Board (ARB) ruled in favour of the two complainants and claimed that Toyota South Africa has indeed breached Clause 3.3 of Section II that clearly states that advertisements should not contain anything which might lead to or encourage criminal or illegal activities. The ARB therefore requested Toyota to withdraw the ad from television.

Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt, who is a member of the Cape Town City’s mayoral committee for Spatial Planning and Environment, comments: “South Africa has a set of regulations known as the Control of the Use of Vehicles in the Coastal Zone which forms part of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, South Africa’s principle coastal legislation. In terms of these regulations, it is illegal to drive a vehicle on the beach without obtaining a permit. The regulations stem in part from the fact that the beach is a sensitive environment and that driving on the beach can and has in the past led to significant negative impacts on the coastal environment.”

Nieuwoudt adds: “Within the Control of the Use of Vehicle regulations there is a clause that states no advertising may take place if such advertising portrays recreational driving taking place in the coastal zone in South Africa. The intention of this clause is to prevent communicating a message to the layperson that is in conflict with the legislation.”

Since the removal of the ad from television, Toyota South Africa and Toyota Global has disputed claims that the commercial infringes upon any environmental laws.  

Tasneem Lorgat, senior manager of Advertising and Digital Marketing at Toyota South Africa, says: “Both Toyota South Africa and Toyota Global are committed to the environment and a positive future for all living things, which is why we take great care when selecting locations for our shoots, as well as what we shoot.”

According to Toyota, the Hilux GR-Sport commercial was not shot in an environmentally-sensitive area but in an industrial area at the Philippi Sand Mine, which is adjacent to Mitchells Plain near Cape Town. “The shoot was on private property on the Philippi Sand Mine – permission was obtained, and a fee was paid,” adds Lorgat, who goes on to say that when viewing the ad, there is nothing in the footage that creates the perception that there is a beach or ocean nearby.

The Hilux GR-Sport commercial is, in fact, part of a campaign to promote the special edition Gazoo Racing version of the Hilux, which is a Dakar-racing inspired range. With this in mind, both the agency and automaker assumed that the location that was chosen fitted the Dakar-action feel of the film concept.

Lorgat highlighted that most Toyota ads are shot on commonly-used and approved areas, saying: “We do not wish to depict or condone ecologically-irresponsible driving regardless of where we are shooting, and to that end, you will see that the Hilux GR-Sport is mostly driving on existing paths and, in the few instances where you see it travelling over untracked sand, you will notice that we do not drive over any flora or fauna – just sand.”

Wheels24 digital readers also shared their views on the matter:

“The law disallows beach/coastal dune driving already, so hardly anyone will be able to drive like this. The ad shows what the vehicle is capable of. Rather go to any one of the other 100s of countries where no restrictions exist and moan/protest there!” – John Read

“There’s not even one thing that portrays the beach there, the only thing we see is desert. Toyota bakkies have been the best-sellers for so long; I believe the competitors are behind this.” – Thabo Ndwandwe

Gail Schimmel, CEO of ARB, commented on the verdict: “People must understand that we understood that they [Toyota SA] did not actually break the laws while filming. That is not the issue. The issue is that to the consumer watching the ad; it looks like they are driving in a natural sand dune area, which is against the law. It looks ‘cool’ and encourages other drivers to maybe do the same.”

The final ruling gave Toyota the option to either fix the ad to meet ASA’s requirements or permanently withdraw their existing ad.

However, ARB’s Schimmel cautions: “There are always two routes: withdraw the ad, or amend the ad in a way that brings it into line with the decision. The risk with amending is always that they might not manage it and face another ruling against them.”

Since the ruling, Lorgat has confirmed that Toyota South Africa has opted to amend their existing commercial. “The final ruling was made once the media schedule had concluded, so there was no actual need to withdraw the TVC from stations. We are, however, in the process of adding disclaimers on to the TVC in order to continue using it on social platforms.”

Establishing the Garden Route as a premier film destination

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

The Garden Route is a tourism gem with much to offer, including hiking trails in Heidelberg and Mossel Bay and water adventures from Witsand all the way to Plett.

The area boasts game farms where visitors can walk with elephants and giraffes. For the wine-lovers and foodies, there’s the Calitzdorp tastings and tours, and chocolates at La Chocolaterie in Great Brak. And to add to its many attractions, the region is now being developed as a premium film destination.

Garden Route Film Office

“The Garden Route Film Office is fairly new – it is the first year where municipalities such as the Garden Route District Municipality and Mossel Bay Municipality joined forces to promote the Garden Route as a film destination,” shares Jeanetta Marais, a resident of the Garden Route for over 19 years and vice chairman of the Garden Route Film Office.  

Marais and her team at the newly-established Garden Route Film Office have embarked on a marketing drive to position the region as a premium film destination, “We attended the Durban International Film Festival to market our region and have put together a 30-second ad that will be screening soon on DStv promoting the region,” she comments. “We are also planning to attend and take part in the inaugural Knysna Film Festival (KFF), creating awareness amongst our communities of the opportunities the film industry holds.”

iKasi Media

Lika Berning is part of the Garden Route Film Office board and founder of iKasi Media, which offers film training programmes for unemployed youth from rural areas in the Garden Route. “We offer a 3-months NQF Level 4 training programme in Film, TV and Digital Media targeting unemployed youth. Our mission is to bring access and real transformation in the film industry. We focus on accessible skills like using your mobile phone to create content and practical, industry-linked skills to prepare learners to be on set. We also place learners on local and international productions in the region,” shares Berning.

In June this year, iKasi Media held a graduation ceremony that saw 22 of its learners graduate, with some selected to work at the Knysna Film Festival this year where four short films made by iKasi student directors will be screened.

“These [student films] can be seen on our YouTube Channel – iKasi Creative Media. We are also hosting screenings in the Knysna community for audiences who do not have access to the festival. Our line-up includes Mama Africa, a documentary about the life of Miriam Makeba by Mika Kaurismäki, and Have you Heard from Johannesburg: Oliver Tambo by Connie Field. These films are supplied by AfriDocs,” explains Berning.

iKasi Media has also partnered with KFF to offer workshops to young people at the festival. “We will be running a five-day orientation programme to introduce the youth to career opportunities in the Film and Television industry. The training includes an overview of the script to screen process, Mobile Journalism and Set Etiquette,” shares Berning. “The programme is part of our recruitment and selection process for the MICT Seta accredited training, which takes place in Thembalethu George.”

The Knysna Film Festival

Patrick Walton is an advocate of the Garden Route’s potential as a film destination and festival director of the Knysna Film Festival, which is gearing up for its first edition this October: “The Garden Route is an emerging area for film production, skills upliftment and development; what better way to raise awareness of what it has to offer than to bring the industry to experience it for themselves?” says Walton.

According to Walton, the inaugural edition of the festival has received industry-wide support and interest from filmmakers around the world: “We are enthused by the reception we have had from around the globe. Our profile on FilmFreeway has had submissions from 21 different countries and we are now about to reach just over 100 submissions. Most notably, a number of producers have approached us directly asking to submit their film, which is a good sign that there are conversations about the festival happening already.”

Additionally, the festival has had over 20 submissions from film schools and has recruited 12 interns who will be shadowing the organisers during the festival.

While financial support for a first-time event can be challenging, Walton has opted for a barter exchange system with a number of businesses in the Garden Route. The festival has also managed to confirm sponsorship deals with the Garden Route Film Office, Knysna Waterfront and the Film and Media Promotion arm of Wesgro.

“We are still awaiting a few outcomes from other contributors we have approached – but irrespective the Knysna Film Festival is a go,” assures Walton.

The Knynsa Film Festival will be taking place from 29 October 2019 until 2 November 2019 at venues in and around the Garden Route, Western Cape.

Inside the making of etv’s Isipho

From rainmakers to diviners and traditional healers, Africa is well-known for its belief in and ties to the supernatural world.

Isipho is a fictional tale that follows a group of young people with supernatural powers who are recruited to an Academy where they are taught to use their gifts for the betterment of the world.

Produced for e.tv by Herbert Hadebe’s HerbVision Multimedia in association with The Ntintili Factory, production on the lengthy 208-episode series began with an intense research phase which saw Busisiwe Ntintili – founder of The Ntintili Factory and executive co-producer of the series – and her writing team interview numerous South Africans who work in alternative healing and creative therapy.

“There are supernatural occurrences every day. We often overlook these supernatural events in our lives and simply call them coincidence or gut feeling. But I believe that concepts such as karma, luck, intuition or déjà vu speak to the supernatural in our daily lives,” comments Ntintili. “The writing team did a lot of research into the fields of alternative healing, spiritual and supernatural gifts and African history around African knowledge systems. We also found that there is a budding network of alternative schools that deal with training people in spiritual gifts and alternative healing.”

Casting took place earlier this year in Johannesburg, attracting new and well-known actors from across South Africa. Renowned television personalities Themsie Times and Nimrod Nkosi were cast in the roles of Gogo Nqobile and Moses Shezi, respectively. Other noteworthy talents who make a comeback to the small screen with iSipho include Thobani Nzuza as Lwandle, Saint Seseli as Pastor Rametsi, Sparky Xulu as Mpendulo, Wandi Chamane as Nomzingeli and Karabo Maseko as Neo. Additionally, the series introduces two new faces to South African viewers: Precious Ngidi as Ntombi Shezi and Mbalenhle Mavimbela as Tandzile.

Isipho follows Moses Shezi, a professor, husband and father who possesses a special gift that allows him to see into the future.

Ntombi, a research scientist working for large pharmaceutical company Impilo Labs, is Moses’s only child. When Ntombi discovers that the company she works for is selling potentially harmful pills, she begins a crusade to get the pills removed from market and, by doing so, puts her life in danger. Moses begins having visions of his daughter’s impending death and is desperate to ensure that they do not become a reality. This sends him on a quest to find the four individuals who appear in his vision of Ntombi’s final moments. Upon finding them, Moses learns that they too possess supernatural gifts.

“Isipho is not just about people who can predict the future or lift heavy objects, or feel other people’s pain,” comments Nintili. “The gifts are really a metaphor for the talents and knowledge that Africans have possessed since ancient times.”

Shot in Muldersdrift and Johannesburg, principal photography on Isipho began in May 2019 and is expected to finish in early 2020. The series is being shot on the Sony FS7 camera, which happens to be executive co-producer Herbert Hadebe’s go-to camera for most of his shoots. “We wanted the Isipho look and feel to capture the mystical, magical realism tone of the series, while still operating in a modern world that audiences can connect with,” comments Hadebe. “I have personally fallen in love with the Sony FS7 paired with prime lenses. This allows you a cinematic look while still delivering a full high definition, glossy and crisp feel for happy prime time viewing.” Rush Post is handling the edit while audio and final mix is being done by On-Key Sound Studios.

Episode one of the series aired on 1 July 2019 at 18h30 on DStv Channel 194. The series is a half-hour drama airing every Monday to Thursday, with repeats the following day at 14h00. Isipho is also screening on the VIU.com streaming platform.

“The reception to Isipho so far has been extremely positive,” comments Ntintili. “Viewers are delighted to watch something that is quite different in tone and content to what they have been used to…They are finding the characters relatable and already have favourites on the show.”

Overall, Hadebe and Ntintili hope that – through the series – South African viewers will realise that there is a special gift in all of us and that all we need to do is believe in our greatness and our gifts in order to improve our lives.

“We might not be able to predict the future or lift a truck, but we have gifts that span the gamut of human experience. Gifts like empathy, courage, creativity, intellect, invention, entrepreneurship and leadership. These are the gifts our society needs to be able to tackle the issues facing us like unemployment, crime and wealth inequality. These are the gifts our country needs to be able to grow and compete on a global stage,” concludes Ntintili.

Facebook series 2De Vrou spotlights issues of polygamy in the Muslim community

2De Vrou is a three-part Facebook series created by Cape Town filmmaker Sedick Simons. The series marks his filmmaking debut under Koefia Films – a platform that Simons intends to use to create Halal-permissible Islamic content that will educate and stimulate discussion in the Muslim community.

The controversial series, 2De Vrou, tackles issues pertaining to polygamy in the Muslim community, more especially the pain often felt by women in the community when their husbands take on another wife. “Our film in no way undermines the Quran and Sunnah (our lifestyle or our beloved prophet). It tackles a pertinent issue in our community and contextualises it for people who deal with this on a daily basis. Most Imams (may Allah bless them) and Muslim men today focus on the Fiqh/Sharia but very little on the emotional trauma some of our women experience,” explains Simons, who felt that making 2De Vrou could help bring the plight of women affected by this issue to the fore, and lead to a much-needed discussion about this common but largely unspoken-about practice.

Part one of the series is a 10-min short film set in Mitchells Plain, which follows a married woman named Nuraan. A wife and mother who practices her faith diligently, Nuraan is distraught when – on a visit to her local butchery – she discovers that her husband has taken a second wife. This new information puts her faith and marriage to the test when Nuraan questions her rights as a Muslim woman and her husband’s betrayal for keeping his new wife a secret from her for more than six months.
The short film sees Nuraan confront her husband as well as the local Moulana to voice her concerns. Her journey to find a possible solution to her predicament leads to an open conversation on the topic with some of her close family.

Still to be shot, part two of the series will focus on how polygamy impacts the children involved, the second wife and the husband. While in Part three, the team will look into the reasons why the Prophet took on more than one wife.

According to the Quran, the religion permits men to have up to four wives, with the condition that he treat all of them equally. “You may have heard of someone that didn’t treat his wives with fairness and justice. Maybe someone did it purely out of lust. Maybe that person was abusive physically and emotionally. But the act itself was allowed by God so we cannot think of it as wrong. We cannot eliminate it,” says Simons. “Men marry for different reasons: care, love, lust, friendship, etc. No matter what the reasons, when a man takes a second wife, the first wife and children in most cases experience some level of emotional and behavioural issues.”
The female lead Nuraan is played by Nuraan Ajam – wife of Simons’s cousin, Achmat. The couple play the main characters in the series, even using their real names.

Simons says that idea for the series was actually sparked by Nuraan’s relationship with her husband: “I admire the bond between Achmat and his wife. They do everything together…I thought about what would happen if a third person entered their relationship. This sparked thoughts about how couples in polygamous relationships navigate the struggles of their relationships. I discussed the idea with them and the rest is history.”
Simons educated himself on the topic by discussing it with several local scholars: “I read online articles and watched videos on polygamy presented by international Muslim scholars. I also interviewed local Muslim women to get their thoughts on the subject,” he shares. “This is a subject that very often is discussed between friends, family, husbands and wives. I thought I could touch on the emotions a woman goes through – even though she is a practicing Muslim and understands polygamy is allowed.”

Part one was shot at the Simons house in Mitchells Plain, the butchery in New Woodlands and at the Al-Masjidur Rawbie mosque in Portlands.

“My filmmaking methodology is guided by Islamic principles shaping the production process. The manner in which the characters are dressed in the film is also according to Islamic principles,” explains Simons, who shot the first installment on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 camera, paired with Sigma 18-35 lenses. Aputure Amaran LED light panels and No Name fluorescent tubes were used to light select scenes. Besides having a team to help with the lighting for the shoots, Simons handled everything else himself – from the script, to production, post and final upload.

The first episode in the series was released in late-June of 2019 and went viral within days. As a result, Simons was asked to be a guest on various radio shows to discuss the film.

The first installment of the three-part series has sparked much-needed discussion on the topic, with several women coming out to share their personal stories of living in a polygamous relationship and how they cope with having to share their husbands. 2De Vrou received mixed reactions from Muslim men who are for and against this practice.

Simons says that he hopes to start shooting part two in the first week of August. “I’m busy writing part two and because I work solo, things take a bit longer. I also need to work around my cast’s schedules. This is not a paid-for production, it’s self-funded.”

Simons is already working on other film ideas with roots in the Muslim community. Through his films, he intends on changing the way the world views his religion and his people, and this starts by educating citizens about things that take place in their own backyards.

“Western films depict Islam in a very negative way. Muslims are always terrorists or the bad guy… It has always been my dream to create Halal-permissible Islamic content that can educate and stimulate discussion in our local community. The only way to tackle this problem is to create our own Halal Islamic content that is both informative, educational and entertaining for everyone. Not just Muslims,” Simons concludes.

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