Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Fire That Calls

The sound of the match, the exhaling of the smoke from the cigarette or beadie. The fire.  The initial inspiration was the fire that took Ernesto’s life that day in 2008. The picture of him set alight haunted and continues to haunt me. Though a picture is silent I could imagine the sound of the flames and that informed the sound design of the film. The heightened unrealistic sound design. The first day I went into the studio, Michael Botha had created a very realistic sound design. I asked him to go more expressionistic. The fire became the recurring motif of the film. In the research material to the film, there was a paper named The Fire that Calls published about service delivery protests. Timothi (Fana Mokoena) evokes the title in a monologue: “That fire out there, is a call for people to listen to us.” In response to the first wave of the violence, the Councillor (Jet Novuka) comes to meet the people at the town hall, proving the statement true, he has literary been called by smoke signals in the sky. The meeting is rowdy and the noisy audience drown the Councillor out , telling him "Now that you’re here, you will listen to us". Fire represents destruction, is also be a representation of passion, energy and ultimately, out of the ashes- something positive can rise. In lieu of recent events this week, we need the energy to fight this new/old plague. Replace destruction with construction.

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Secret Is In Her Eyes

Buried amidst the haunted corridors of Timothi's (Fana Mokoena) office lies a secret that is at the heart of a disappearance. Timothi's wife Lindiwe (Bubu Mazibuko) carries a secret about a secret, the more she tells us, the less we know. To play the part of the tortured but unobtrusive Lindiwe everything had to be in the eyes of the actress. Bubu Mazibuko is one of the best kept secret's of our industry. Meticulous in her performances, she still makes acting seem deceptively simple. In film, the melody is in the eyes, none better to play that tune than Bubu Mazibuko.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Incredible Mak

All Mak does is turn in great performance after great performance. Hijack Stories, Yizo-Yizo 3, Stay With Me,  he brings a quality to the characters he portrays that can only be described as supernatural. During the research and in the creation of Vusi's character, I read Andile Mngxitama's brilliant essay Blacks Are Kwerekweres/Whites Are Tourists. One paragraph always stayed with me in the construction of the character:

"Truth is many squatter camps which host millions of South Africans are nothing but permanent refuge camps. The multitudes that are trapped there are excluded from our democracy. Their lives are punctuated by violence 24/7. The violence of hunger, denigration, hopelessness and perpetual terror waiting for what the state is going to do next, wondering what dust bowl will follow. The poetry of Abahlali baseMjondolo tells the story of legalised, state-sponsored violence against squatters better. their story is indeed the story of the millions of other squatters." 

There is a line in the film where Vusi says, speaking about the government: "these people have betrayed us", I have heard that line, delivered by Mak a hundred times and it still gives me goose bumps. Vusi is a controversial character and Mak was able to bring a humanity to him that has touched and affected audiences the world over.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Hakeem kae-Kazim and Fana Mokoena: Actor's Actors

Hakeem kae-Kazim (Ade) and Fana Mokoena (Timothi) first went head to head in Terry George's Hotel Rwanda and shone again in Rolie Nikiwe’s  Inside Story.  In Man On Ground, they illuminate the screen. Both were nominated at the African Movie Academy Awards with Fana taking home the Best Supporting Actor Award. They are what I would call Actor’s Actors - actors that other actors love to watch.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Who Took That Picture?

That's a question I've been asked whenever anyone sees The Poster. I never had a concept of what the poster would be. We had toyed around with a few ideas but nothing concrete. Christopher Grant Harvey, our DIT/Data Wrangler, had been collecting frame grabs from the shoot, and he would send them to me at the end of the day to view. Amongst them was this shot of Femi (Fabian Adeoye Lojede) as he walked through the pigeons. Of all the images, it seemed to capture one of the themes of the film: longing to be free. In that moment as the pigeons fly up past him, Femi is free. Months later, Hakeem kae-Kazim and I stood at the back of the cinema in Washington watching the film. Man On Ground was the opening night film at The Smithsonian African Art House Film Festival, and when the scene came up on screen, he leaned to me and whispered: “That should be the poster”. He was right. It was one of those images that the Film Gods had blessed us with. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

My Cameo In Man On Ground

The cameo was supposed to be a sneak peek at characters from my next film Tell Me Sweet Something. Lindiwe Matshikiza plays the lead, a young writer called Moratiwa and I play her publisher. The scene never made it to the final cut of Man On Ground. You'll hear more from Moratiwa soon.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Great Cast of Man On Ground

                                          Hakeem kae Kazim

                                           Fana Mokoena

                                          Fabian Adeoye Lojede

                                         Makhaola Ndebele

                                         Bubu Mazibuko

                                         Thishiwe Ziqubu

                                         Mandisa Bardill