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Sophiatown documentary Freedom Square and Back of the Moon to screen at Montreux Jazz Festival

The acclaimed documentary feature Freedom Square and Back of the Moon directed by Academy Award nominee Angus Gibson and celebrated artist and filmmaker, William Kentridge will be screened at the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on 30 June 2019. Film producer, Anant Singh facilitated the participation of the film in Montreux’s film series programme held at the Cinéma Hollywood theatre, where he will introduce the film on 30 June.

Freedom Square and Back of the Moon focuses on Sophiatown the closest place to the city centre of Johannesburg, occupied by black South Africans. It was home to writers, journalists, artists, politicians – the black intellectual heart of the city. It is not surprising then that it was the first area to be targeted by the Nationalist Government for removals. In this documentary, Angus Gibson and William Kentridge, use interviews, archive material, drawings and extracts from the protest play ‘Sophiatown’, to explore the life and destruction of Sophiatown.

Anant Singh said, “Angus and William created an amazing film that captures the spirit of Sophiatown – the vibrance of the community, the American-inspired fashion, all revolving around jazz in clubs like Back of the Moon which was frequented by Madiba and his friends. When I watched the film recently, I thought it is a perfect fit for the Montreux Jazz Festival as jazz was such an important part of life in Sophiatown.”

Angus Gibson commented, “Freedom Square and Back of the Moon is as relevant today in our society, as it was when William and I made it.  The memory of Sophiatown is documented for posterity through our film and the jazz music that was loved by its people. We are grateful to Anant for identifying the Montreux Jazz Festival as a platform for our film, and we are delighted to be sharing this unique South African experience with the Montreux audience.”

Sophiatown was established in 1900 and since its earliest days it was a multi-cultural melting pot of families with different racial and cultural backgrounds. Sophiatown enjoyed its freedom as a racially integrated area. ‘Swinging Sophiatown’ was known for its rich jazz music scene and was an intellectual, artistic and political hub for those opposed to apartheid, until its destruction by the Apartheid Government from 1955 to 1959. Angus Gibson and William Kentridge capture this essence of Sophiatown in Freedom Square and Back of the Moon.

An exhibition of the work of co-director, William Kentridge entitled ‘William Kentridge: A Poem That Is Not Our Own’, opened at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland on Saturday and will run through to 13 October 2019. The exhibition which features Kentridge’s extensive body of work, also includes an entire room of stage decors designed for the 1986 musical, Sophiatown.

Anant Singh announces Mandela centenary initiatives

Following the briefing by minister Jeff Radebe on the centenary celebrations of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu and the Comprehensive National Programme for the Centenary, film producer Anant Singh outlined a package of films perpetuating the legacy of Madiba and Ma Albertina Sisulu that will be released as part of the centenary celebrations.

Anant Singh said, “I am honoured to have enjoyed a personal relationship with Madiba, commencing while he was in prison when I asked to make a film about his life. I have  recorded significant events which have enabled us to produce these films that will support the Centenary celebrations following its theme, ‘Renewing the Mandela legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world’. Our flagship project to celebrate Madiba’s centenary year, Celebrating Mandela One Hundred gives us a glimpse into Madiba’s rich and inspirational life. Madiba left us a great legacy of selfless leadership and we are delighted to be sharing his rich legacy on film with the world as we celebrate his 100th birthday.”

Celebrating Mandela One Hundred is a documentary feature produced with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Enhanced with authentic re-enactments, Celebrating Mandela One Hundred features family and friends Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Joe Slovo, Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton and many others.

Celebrating Mandela One Hundred will have its World Premiere at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Sunday, 8 July.

In addition, other films that will be released during Mandela Month include:


Videovision Entertainment has entered into a partnership with DSTV to broadcast these films on their Mandela 100 Tribute Pop-Up Channel between 18 and 22 July 2018 on channel 199.


Anant Singh honoured at inaugural Usiba Creative and Cultural Industries Awards

Film producer, Anant Singh was honoured recently during the first-ever USIBA Creative and Cultural Industries Awards at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.  Singh received the USIBA Honorarium in the Audio Visual and Creative category for his role in the development of the South African Film Industry.

The USIBA Creative and Cultural Industries Awards is a partnership with the Creative and Cultural Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) and the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa. Like the National Orders of Ikamanga, USIBA is the highest accolade in the cultural and creative industries in South Africa.

Anant Singh is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the South African film industry, and in a career spanning almost four decades has produced over eighty films. Notable films produced by Singh include A Place of Weeping, Sarafina!, Cry, the Beloved Country and the Academy Award-nominated films, Yesterday and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Commenting on receiving the award Singh said, “Thanks to Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the USIBA Awards Committee for this incredible honour. When I reflect on my journey, beginning in the mid-1980s, making anti-apartheid movies, on the run from the security police, and then coming all the way 25 years later to produce Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – it’s been an incredible journey. This award is not just an acknowledgement of my work, but it also recognises the thousands of people who came together to make the films that I have produced. The creative industries are an aspect of South Africa that is undervalued and has tremendous potential to generate jobs and export opportunities. It is not only in film but also in music, pottery, painting and the visual and performing arts.  l believe that for the potential of the creative industries to be unlocked, there needs to be elevated support at a government level. I would also like to congratulate my fellow honouree, Teboho Mahlatsi for his trailblazing work in the industry.   Once again, thank you for this honour which I truly appreciate.”

Sibanda Series optioned by Videovision Entertainment for TV series

Jacana Media has announced that Anant Singh and Brian Cox of Videovision Entertainment have optioned CM Elliott’s series of detective novels, Sibanda and the Rainbird, Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth and Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk, for possible adaption as a television series.

The crime-writing series focuses on detective inspector Jabulani Sibanda, a hard-boiled, bush-loving, instinctive crime fighter. Together with his sidekick, sergeant Thadeus Ncube, an overweight, bumbling, multi-married policeman, they put their lives at risk as they investigate unique crimes and plumb the depths of Africa’s worst depravities. The series is steeped in the African bush and Matabele culture and keeps one guessing and laughing in turns.

Acknowledged as one of the leading film production companies in South Africa, Videovision Entertainment has produced more than 80 films and has brought to the screen some of the best-known films made in the country, among which are Sarafina!; Cry, The Beloved Country and the Oscar nominees Yesterday and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

“This is such brilliant news and I am thrilled. Thank you Videovision! I have always known that detective Jabulani Sibanda and crew and their slice of rural Zimbabwe would translate fabulously to the screen. It’s been ages since the movie world has depicted African wildlife, so the time is right. What’s not to love – a dashing hero, hair-raising encounters and the glorious African bush. The on-screen adventures of Sibanda will mix the artistry of breathtaking scenery with drama and adventure. I can’t wait!” expressed author, CM Elliott.

Videovision Entertainment’s Anant Singh said, “We are delighted to have optioned this highly entertaining series of books by CM Elliot. She has successfully taken the detective story to a unique and unexpected place and given it a distinctively African character. There is great casting potential in Jabulani Sibanda and I’m certain we will find an actor with a charismatic screen presence who will want to step into this role. We look forward to developing the books into filmed entertainment content that will reach a global audience.”

Media personality, Jenny Crwys-Williams also had encouraging words to say about the venture and shared, “When CM Elliott’s first novel (Sibanda and the Rainbird) landed on my desk, I nearly shouted out loud. At last! A krimi novel from Zimbabwe. But no ordinary novel. Here we were in the Matabeleland bush with characters emerging through the dense bush fully formed. Detective-inspector Jabulani Sibanda, lovelorn, austere and mad about the bush, and his altogether marvellous sidekick sergeant Thadeus Ncube, whose stomach rumbling equals that of a conversational elephant. What a delight those two are, with the bush and a recalcitrant Land Rover both playing significant roles in the series. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with the characters who appear in the Sibanda series. A TV series? I’d queue to watch it!”

Publishing director at Jacana Media, Bridget Impey concluded, “We couldn’t think of a more wonderful choice of books. Sibanda will be sure to grab the hearts and minds of an international audience.”

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