“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people I love them. They must continue the fight.”
THIRTY seven years ago, Solomon Mahlangu uttered these words before being put to death: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people I love them. They must continue the fight.”
The authentically African story, ‘Kalushi’, directed by Mandla Dube, is based on the true story of a 19-year-old hawker, Solomon Mahlangu from Mamelodi township, selling vegetables to help support his family. Avoiding the rioting at school, and train-surfing with his friends, he somehow becomes a political icon and through this film we get to see him transform from an average hawker to a human rights legend. Mahlangu was hanged in 1979 after being found guilty of terrorism and treason charges.
RapidLion, the South African international film festival, held recently at the Market Theatre, aims to use its signature awards ceremony as a platform to celebrate local cinema, movies from Africa, the African diaspora and BRICS countries.
Emmy-nominated comedian and producer, Loyiso Gola took to the stage as the host of the inaugural RapidLion 2016 awards ceremony, enlivening the event with his unique sense of humour.
“I am very excited to be part of the RapidLion award ceremony, and it’s a great opportunity for me to reveal to the world that there is great film-making talent in Africa and especially South Africa,” says Gola.
“The journey from conception to birth, for RapidLion, took four years.The festival will showcase the best of a different kind of cinema,” explains Eric Miyeni, RapidLion spokesperson.
The RapidLion award, a statue with a lioness atop the ancient African symbol of excellence, was awarded at the ceremony held on March 16 for the following categories:
Best Student Film South Africa, Best Student Film BRICS, Best International Short Film, Best Soundtrack, Music (Best Song), Film Editing, Cinematography, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Documentary Feature, Directing, Best of South Africa, Best of BRICS, Best of Africa and the African Diaspora, Best Film Overall, Best Humanitarian Film, and the Lionel Ngakane Lifetime Achievement Award.
Some films that were nominated included ‘Trinta’ by Paulo Machline from Brazil, ‘Battalion’ by Dmitriy Meskhiev from Russia, ‘Let’s Dance to the Rhythm’ by Bardroy Barretto from India, ‘Stories of Our Lives’ by Wangechi Ngugi from Kenya, ‘The Bullet in the Scarf’ by Nikita Morare, and ‘Kalushi’ by Mandla Dube, which also opened RapidLion 2016 on Saturday, March 12.
RapidLion also honoured Anant Singh with the first Lionel Ngakane Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the advancement of African cinema.
The movies ‘Kalushi’ and ‘Dis Ek, Anna (It’s me Anna)’ were nominated in five categories.
‘Kalushi’ was nominated in the following categories: Music (Best Song), Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best of South Africa and Directing.
‘Dis Ek Anna (It’s me, Anna)’ is an Afrikaans drama based on the two top-selling novels by Anchien Troskie, ‘Dis ek, Anna (It’s me, Anna)’ and ‘Die Staat teen Anna Bruwer (The State vs Anna Bruwer)’. It was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Music (Best Song), Film Editing, Cinematography and Best of South Africa.
‘Kalushi’ is being hailed as a critically important South African story, and has received support from the government and, notably, a personal letter of endorsement from President Jacob Zuma. It also has the blessing of the Mahlangu family.
“It is one thing to tell a historic story because that history is important, but that is the easy part. The difficult part is telling that historic story well. Our selection of ‘Kalushi’ as the opening film for RapidLion 2016 is because Mandla Dube has made a good film,” says Miyeni.
The festival bases its existence on the fundamental idea that film-making is a business, and aims to provide participating film-makers with an annual event that will awaken the world to the existence of world-class films outside of the mature territories of North America and Western Europe.