South Africa given starring role in cinema in France

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05 Dec 2013

The South African Season in France will be paying homage to cinema through fiction, documentaries, short films, animation and other genres in theatres and cinemas until January 2014.

The long-awaited film on the exceptional life of South Africa’s icon ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ will have its avant-premiere on 02 December at UNESCO in Paris, before opening in 250 theatres across France on 18 December. With a striking performance by Idris Elba in the title role, the film retraces the life of one of history’s greatest political icons and his commitment and sacrifice, from birth to his rise to the Presidency.

Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the South African Season in France, says, “A large part of the Seasons was dedicated to Tata Nelson Mandela with overwhelming attendance at the Mandela Exhibition: From Prisoner to President at Paris Hotel de Ville and the International Nelson Mandela Day Concert held at the Place de la Republique. The upcoming film, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’, should be just as popular as we collectively commemorate his life.”

Strong support by the National Film and Video Foundation saw South Africa’s debut participation at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival earlier this year. The NFVF was also instrumental in enabling the translation/sub-titling of films for screening in French cinemas and at the various festivals that formed part of the Seasons.

Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile, says, “South Africa has so many stories to share with the world, we are encouraged that our creative talents, both filmmakers and actors, are giving voice to these tales and doing so to such acclaim. The South African film industry is one to watch.”

Paris Jeu de Paume, November – January
Jeu de Paume de Paris presents ‘Un regard de cinema surl’Afrique du Sud’ (a cinematographic look on South Africa), offering a panoramic view of the Rainbow Nation’s cinema industry. From rich anti-apartheid productions in the 1960s, to films produced after the abolishment of apartheid in 1991, each is an art testament to the social transformation of the country and to the uncompromising portrayal of contemporary South Africa by today’s youth.

Films being screened include ‘Of Good Report’ by recent Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka; ‘Zulu Love Letter’ by Ramadan Suleman; ‘Beauty’ by Oliver Hermanus; ‘When We Were Black’ by Khalo Matabane; and ‘A Lion’s Tale’ by Francois Verster.

The Festival also focuses on a mini-programme which looks more broadly at sub-Saharan African cinema, featuring ‘Man on Ground’ by Akin Omotoso.

Francois Verster, who was recently in Paris to attend Jeu de Paume, said: “The screening of three of my films at the Jeu de Paume was a fantastic showcasing opportunity in France – the audiences were hugely receptive and appreciative, with much meaningful discussion afterwards.”

35th 3 Continents Festival Nantes, 19 – 26 November
The 35th edition of the 3 Continents Festival held in Nantes observed the integral role of history through films spanning from 1928 to today. It bridged the two by an eagerness to break taboos and old points of reference.

More than 25,000 people visit the festival annually, making it an important event on the international film calendar. The South African focus in this year’s festival showcased a retrospective on South African cinema. Amongst the films screened were ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ (1951), ‘Die Kandidaat’ (1968), ‘Marigolds in August’ and ‘The Guest’ (1980), and the more contemporary film, ‘Jeppe on a Friday’ (2013). Filmmaker Ross Devenish (‘Marigolds in August’ and ‘The Guest’) was in attendance at the festival.

Script development forms a major part of the festival, and this year three South African filmmakers – Nosipho Dumisa, Madoda Ncayiyana and Meg Rickards – were invited to participate in a mini residency to work on the script of a long feature project. This reciprocal scriptwriting project was born out of a partnership between the Durban International Film Festival, the Durban FilmMart and the 3 Continents Festival Nantes. This relationship was strengthened by the existing support of the ‘sister-cities’ agreement between Durban and Nantes.

Amiens International Film Festival, November
The 33rd Amiens International Film Festival has also given South Africa a major focus: Filmmakers of South Africa: crossed visions.

Films by South African filmmakers Ramadan Suleman and Oliver Hermanus were highlighted at the festival, which also presents a great opportunity for discussions about the current state of South African cinema.

Finally, a programme of short films will complete this retrospective and emphasise the vitality of a cinema transforming.

Participation at festivals earlier this year included Paris Cinema and La Rochelle, which screened feature films and short films by young South African filmmakers, including Shannon Walsh, Teboho Edkins and Arya Lalloo.

For more information see: or @nacsouthafrica