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RapidLion - The South African International Film Festival


Moroccan film Monsters dominates at the RapidLion 2020 awards ceremony

RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival awarded 16 winners at its 2020 awards ceremony which took place on Saturday, 14 March in Johannesburg.

The late Dr. Lionel Ngakane was honoured as the first recipient of the RapidLion Lifetime Achievement Award. South African film Fried Barry and Moroccan film Monsters took home numerous awards at the 5th RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival awards ceremony.

”We are particularly proud to mark our fifth anniversary by bestowing the first posthumous lifetime achievement RapidLion to the great man it is named after, the late Dr. Lionel Ngakane,” said festival director Eric Miyeni at the glitzy event. Dr. Ngakane is a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for “…outstanding achievement in the field of movie-making and contribution to the development of the industry in South Africa and on the continent”.

Born in 1928, Dr. Ngakane entered the film industry in 1950 and went on to act opposite Sydney Poitier in Zoltan Korda’s Cry The Beloved Country. He was the first indigenous South African to direct a film. His short film, Jemima and Johnny won first prizes at the Venice and Rimini film festivals. Always passionate about African cinema, Dr. Ngakane was instrumental in the organisation of the first African Film Festival at the National Film Theatre in London. He also conceived of an organisation that would foster cooperation among African filmmakers and, in 1967, the Pan-African Federation of Film Makers – of which he was the regional secretary for southern Africa – was formed. Dr. Ngakane passed away in 2003, aged 75.

The Best Student Short (South Africa) award went to Nocturnal by upcoming director Siyabonga Mbele, while the Best Student Short from the BRICS counties went to The Bleeding News from China by young director Zhang Hao.

The best International Short went to The Letter Reader by director Sibusiso Khuzwayo. Brazilian director Eliza Capai received the award for Best Documentary Feature for her film Your Turn.

South African actor Jet Novuka took home the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in Letters of Hope. Kate Henshaw-Nuttal won the RapidLion for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in The Ghost and the House of Truth. Best Actor in a Leading Role went to Abdelouahid Zaouki, for his performance in the Moroccan film Monsters.

Gareth Place won the RapidLion for Cinematography for his work on the South African film, Fried Barry. The Best Screenplay award went to Moroccan filmmaker Aksel Rifman for his film, Monsters. Rifman also received the award for directing for Monsters.

In the Film Editing category, Stephen Du Plessis won for his work on Fried Barry. Best of South Africa went to Fried Barry, produced by James C Williamson.

The Best of BRICS category went to The Story of My Grandfather by producers Jiang Zhonghua and Liu Haiqing from China. Monsters, being the big winner of the night also won in the Best of Africa and the African Diaspora and Best Film Overall category.

RapidLion Awards Ceremony returns to the festival

This year’s edition of RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival, which runs at the market Theatre from 1 to 10 March 2019, sees the return of the RapidLion Awards Ceremony.

Several standouts have emerged, with films such as Five Fingers for Marseilles (SA), Sew The Winter to My Skin (SA), Silent Winter (China), Catching Feelings (SA), Legalize It – Friendship Never Dies (Brazil), and Shocking KungFu of Huo’s (China) boasting nominations in several categories. Leading the charge with eight nominations each are Chinese production, Silent Winter, written and directed by Da Fei, and South African film, Five Fingers for Marseilles, directed by Michael Matthews and written by Sean Drummond. Not to be counted out, though, is the epic Sew the Winter to My Skin, written and directed by South African filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, which has been nominated in seven categories.

Interesting to note is that the above three films are all set in the hinterland, making them obvious contenders for the Cinematography category, which should draw attention to the manner in which the landscape has been used to drive the respective stories. Popular categories see a combination of the above films running neck and neck in categories such as the above-mentioned Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Film Editing, Directing and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Although currently enjoying the creative and popular success of coming-of-age adventure Matwetwe, this edition of RapidLion sees filmmaker and comedian Kagiso Lediga nominated for Best Screenplay for Catching Feelings, his seminal romantic comedy that has been popularly received on Netflix, launching his international career as director and producer. The film, which he also directed, has been nominated in three categories, including Best of South Africa and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Andrew Buckland.

Although Russia, as a BRICS partner, does not feature prominently in the feature film categories, its filmmakers make a strong showing in the Best Documentary Feature category, with Russian-born filmmaker Xenia Sigalova’s My Russian Spring and Vadim Vitovsev’s Missing Girls both competing in the Best Documentary Feature category.

The Awards Ceremony will take place on 9 March 2019.


List of directors for RapidLion 2019 keeps growing

The fourth annual RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival – taking place from 1 to 10 March at the Market Theatre – has unveiled its lineup of featured directors. The selection of directors, like the films on offer, is varied, including documentary filmmakers, short film specialists and seasoned feature film directors.

The strong presence of filmmakers bodes well for creative cross-pollination and intercultural dialogue across the BRICS countries.

Among the heavy-hitters slated to speak are director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and producer Layla Swart whose film Sew The Winter to My Skin presents the true story of John Kepe, dubbed the ‘Samson of the Boschberg Mountains’. Kepe, very much his own man was taken as something of a Robin Hood figure in the Karoo mountains that he called home. Like in his earlier film Of Good Report, Qubeka relies on little dialogue, preferring to propel his films through landscape, casting and cinematography. The 19h30 screening of Qubeka’s film on 6 March will be followed by a question and answer session with the director and producer.

Representing China is director Da Fei, whose feature length film, Silent Winter, is about the lengths people would go to to have offspring or to protect their family from the supposed stigma of childlessness. The film will screen twice, first on 7 March 7 (17h00) and 9 March (13h30).

Another Chinese film being screened, and followed by a Q&A, is Zhang Taihai’s Whack. The film, screening at 17h00 on 3 March 2019, depicts the story of 39-year-old kickboxer Hongbing, a fighter close to retirement who must deal with a string of intertwined family dynamics and his fading fortunes.

Angela Matemotja’s film Elevate, tells the story of a dispatch operator who struggles to complete just one day of healthy eating while being body shamed. Matemojta, who grew up in Tanzania, Russia and Kenya seeks to explore the social, sub-cultural and international aspects of the societies she has been a part of. Matemotja will participate in two Q&A sessions on two consecutive days, the first on 7 March at 10h30 and the second on 8 March at 17h30.

There is also a strong selection of shorts, with Rafeeqah Galant’s 13-minute film In The Light of Fire being screened twice (on 2 March 2 at 11h00 and 8 March at 18:00). The film tells the story of Slindile, who, having escaped a mental institution in KwaZulu-Natal finds herself alone to brave the woodland.

Some of the short films to be screened in the presence of their directors fall under the ambit of the festival’s LBGTQI shorts, which explore the lives of characters in varying environments. Adetokumboh M’Cormack’s 18-minute film Irish Goodbye, directed and acted by M’Cormack, tells the story of a young, closeted gay man who is a conflicted but devout Muslim refugee from Syria. On a night out with a quixotic Irishman named Eric, they will confront issues of trust, abandonment, tragedy and privilege. Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to diplomat parents, M’Cormack was raised in Kenya and England. His acting credits include leading roles in Battle Los Angeles, Blood Diamonds and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Representing his directorial debut, Irish Goodbye will screen on 1 March, the opening day, at 14h00.

RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival 2019 expands its line-up

RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival has announced that tickets for its fourth annual event are now available for purchase.

The festival showcases feature films and documentaries from BRICS countries, the African continent and the diaspora, and awards excellence in 18 categories.

Tickets for the 10-day event, which runs from 1 March to 10 March 2019 at the Market Theatre, range from R155 day passes to R1750 all-access passes. Weekend passes, tickets for each individual day, as well as tickets for film producer Jan Harlan’s three master classes are also available at discounted prices for students.

For ticket sales and full details on prices click here.

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