film-makers have returned from the world-famous Cannes
Film Festival in France, with smiles on their faces and
freshly signed sales deals in their pockets. It was a
year, they told "City Press", where black films and
women¡¦s films stole the spotlight
The big news was about two
films with a strong South African presence, Rafiki
and The Harvesters ¡V both in competition and
both co-productions with other countries.
It took Kenyan film-maker Wanuri Kahiu seven years to
raise the funds for Rafiki, Africa¡¦s first
feature-length lesbian love story, which was co-produced
by South Africa¡¦s Steven Markovitz, fresh off his
success with the documentary, Winnie.
And it was worth the wait.
¡§Rafiki had an incredible reception and
received a standing ovation for about 10 minutes,¡¨
Kahiu had to fit in more than 100 interviews with
Rafiki is a co-production between South Africa,
Kenya, France and Germany, and at Cannes it was sold to
the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Holland,
Belgium and Switzerland.
Lwazi Manzi was known as an emergency room doctor in a
hospital ¡V that is until she got bitten by the film bug.
Today, she divides her time between the intensive care
unit and Spier Films, and the Cannes red carpet. She
co-produced The Harvesters, which was screened
to a full theatre and won critical praise, most notably
from the all-important film industry magazine
A co-production between South Africa, Greece, Poland and
France, the film plays out in a white, conservative,
patriarchal rural community. A teenage Janno does not
fit in and is emotionally frail. One day, his fiercely
religious mother brings home Pieter, a hardened orphan
she hopes to save. This sets into motion a terrible
power struggle between the boys.
The Harvesters also received a standing ovation
at Cannes, and had signed distribution deals even before
arriving in the upmarket resort town on the French
Riviera. Manzi, who has two more international
co-productions in the pipeline, was invited to speak at
an event at the festival and was blown away by this
year¡¦s feminist activism spearheaded by Cate Blanchett,
who led a barefoot march against male control of the
¡§The representation of Africa in film is grossly
disproportionate considering the African population in
the world,¡¨ she told City Press.
¡§The onus is on us to demand inclusion in the
international film industry.¡¨