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Seven South African Films Participate
& Are Showcased At The 65th Berlinale

Coming of Age
 
Seven South African supported films, by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) will screen in Out of Competition, Panorama, Generation 14plus and the Special Screenings sections of the 65th Berlinale.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is governed by the National Film and Video Foundation Act 73 of 1997 as amended by Cultural Laws Amendment Act 36 of 2001. The mandate of the NFVF, in terms of section 3 of the Act, is: To promote and develop the film and video industry; To provide and encourage the provision of opportunities for persons, especially from disadvantaged communities to get involved in the film and video industry; To encourage the development and distribution of local film and video products; To support the nurturing and development of access to the film and video industry; To address historical imbalances in the infrastructure and distribution of skills and resources in the film and video industry. The seven films cover a broad cross section of the film industry in South Africa.
 

Breathe Umphefumlo
 
Breathe Umphefumlo from acclaimed director and filmmaker Mark Dornford-May who directed the 2005 Golden Bear winner U-CARMEN is in the Out Of Competition section at the Berlin Film Festival. The story follows a group of artists, writers and actors struggling to survive in the township of Khayelitsha, which has high rates of tuberculosis, in common with 19th Century Paris, the original setting of La Boheme. Produced by South Africa's Advantage Entertainment and Isango Ensemble and the UK's Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME), the film is written by Dornford-May and stars Pauline Malefane with musical direction by Mandisi Dyantyis.

Coming of Age in the Generation 14plus section is directed by Teboho Edkins and follows teenagers over the course of two years as they grow up deep in the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Joe Bullet, directed by Louis de Witt, is part of the 2015 Special Screenings. The 1973 gangster film is inspired in equal measure by the black pop culture of the time and the American Blaxploitation genre. Louis de Witt's action-packed film about a manipulated cup final was one of the first to be shot with an all-black cast. Joe Bullet offered its audiences a vision of life that did not correspond to the reality of most black South Africans under Apartheid. Although the film was not overtly political, it was swiftly banned and not screened for an extended period of time. This unique work has been restored. The film stars Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez and Abigail Kubeka.

 

Necktie Youth
 
Necktie Youth features in the Panaroma section of the festival and chronicles a day in the life of best friends Jabz and September, two hyper-Americanised Zulu boys, as they go on a drug-fuelled joyride through Joburg's affluent suburbs. The film is directed by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer and stars Bonko Cosmo, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, Colleen Balchin, Kamogelo Moloi, Emma Tollman, Jonathan Young, Giovanna Winetzki, Ricci-Lee Kalish and Michael Hall. Umbang will also feature in the 2015 Special Screenings section. Until the end of the Apartheid era, state funding was granted to numerous so-called B-Scheme films, which were shot by mainly white producers for black audiences.

Umbango, directed by Tonie van der Merwe, is one of the few Westerns still in existence from this period, a typical Wild West story about the battle between good and evil. With the exception of one solitary gringo (who is shot dead at the very beginning), this hugely entertaining film was also shot with an entirely black cast. The film stars Popo Gumede and Hector Mathanda.
 

Abaabi ba boda boda
 
Abaabi ba boda boda is a co-production between Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Germany. Life in Kampala today could be pretty OK for Abel, if he weren't a young man without prospects, with a father who drives a boda boda and keeps urging him to start making a living for himself. Boda bodas (from "border-to-border") are motorcycle taxis sometimes also used to carry goods. Abel is a young drifter whose existence is put to the test when an accident stops his father from being able to drive. Suddenly, he gains full access to this freedom-representing vehicle. It's a fantastic opportunity for him to escape his life's predetermined plot, but it's not without risk. There are professionals in the city whose specialty it is to snatch handbags – and get away on their boda bodas. Plenty of money can be made from tourists and halfwits.

Abaabi ba boda boda is a wonderful take on a European classic from a young, African perspective, by paying suitable tribute to Vittorio De Sica's Ladri di biciclette. Yes! That's Us makes a neorealist urban portrait of Kampala brought right up to date with Ugandan music, locations and actors. Black President by Mpumelelo Mcata is a Zimbabwe, South Africa and United Kingdom supported film. Mcata allows artist Kudzanai Chiurai to flee into a whole other realm following various fractious experiences in the art scene.
 
 


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