International Women’s Month: Leading Ladies who have passed

Women continue to embrace our screens with talent, charm, and wit, and it is with this statement that we find it necessary to honour the lives of many great female stars who are no longer with us today. These women revolutionised the world of stardom, and put forward impeccable performances for their audiences. Thus, it goes without saying that these women should be commended for their inspirational performances, elegance, and talent. Here are five films we encourage you to watch, starring Grace Kelly, Judy Garland, Jean Harlow, Thelma Todd, and last but not least, Marilyn Monroe.

Rear Window [1954]

Professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont, played by the lovely Grace Kelly, and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.

Rear Window

Meet me in St.Louis [1944]

St. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther, played by the wonderful Judy Garland, and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. He however barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and the St. Louis Fair.

Meet me in St. Louis

Libeled Lady [1936]

Warren Haggerty is the chief editor of the New York Evening Star. He is married to Gladys, played by Jean Harlow, and keeps on delaying his marriage with her because of problems his newspapers must face. When it is filed a 5 million dollars claim by Connie Allenbury for having printed she is a marriage-breaker, he organizes the unconsummated marriage of Gladys and the don Juan Bill Chandler. The goal is to catch Connie alone with a married man…

Libeled Lady

Horse Feathers [1932]

Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff has just been installed as the new president of Huxley College. His cavalier attitude toward education is not reserved for his son Frank, who is seeing the college widow, Connie Bailey – played by the talented Thelma Todd. Frank influences Wagstaff to recruit two football players who hang out in a speakeasy, in order to beat rival school Darwin. Unfortunately, Wagstaff mistakenly hires the misfits Baravelli and Pinky. Finding out that Darwin has beaten him to the “real” players, Wagstaff enlists Baravelli and Pinky to kidnap them, which leads to an anarchic football finale.

Horse Feathers

Some Like It Hot [1959]

When two Chicago musicians, Joe and Jerry, witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, they want to get out of town and get away from the gangster responsible, Spats Colombo. They’re desperate to get a gig out of town but the only job they know of is in an all-girl band heading to Florida. They show up at the train station as Josephine and Daphne, the replacement saxophone and bass players. They certainly enjoy being around the girls, especially Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by the breath-takingly beautiful Marilyn Monroe, who sings and plays the ukulele. Joe in particular sets out to woo her while Jerry/Daphne is wooed by a millionaire, Osgood Fielding III. Mayhem ensues as the two men try to keep their true identities hidden and Spats Colombo and his crew show up for a meeting with several other crime lords.

Some like it Hot

These leading ladies have set a high standard for today’s generation of female stars, and although there are many talented performers today, there is something about the elegance, beauty and femininity which these ladies possessed that defined their era.

International Women’s Month: Leading Ladies In Film

It is with great honour that through Retro Afrika Bioscope, we restore and re-release once discarded South African films to a new generation of audiences worldwide. In light of Women’s Month, it is only appropriate that we acknowledge and commend the talented women of the time who played such significant roles in these films, and for their contribution to the development of the South African film industry.

“Joe Bullet” [1971] is about a man [Joe] who helps save his soccer team when faced with a series of onslaughts from a mysterious gangster a week before the championship final. Joe will have to battle against villainous henchmen, escape booby-trap bombs and bring his martial arts expertise to the fore in order to survive an attack from a deadly assassin. Not only does he have to save his team, but that of his beautiful love interest, Beauty – played by the multi-award winning Abigail Kubeka. The odds will be stacked against him, but he will  fight with all his might to save the day.

Joe Bullet

Joe Bullet [1971]

“Rich Girl” [1985] portrays a young, beautiful lady who comes from a wealthy family, however; with this, comes many consequences. Her father hires a highly trained bodyguard to protect her, but she refuses to believe that she needs any protection at all. One day, his worst fears come true, and the two of them are kidnapped by a pair of thugs, but the unsuspecting crooks have no clue as to what the bodyguard is capable of, and are soon to learn the error of their ways.

Rich Girl Poster

Rich Girl [1985]

“Hostage” [1985] – one of the most captivating films – depicts three men who decide to blackmail a young local businessman by the name of Ben, in the hope of using one of his warehouses in the harbour to store a shipment of drugs coming in soon. Ben refuses to cooperate, until his wife Thuli is kidnapped by the crooks. This changes everything for him, as he will do whatever it takes to save his wife.

Hostage Poster

Hostage [1985]

 “Thunder Valley” [1985] tells the story of three friends, John, Sipho and Thandi, who spend the summer holidays at Uncle Joshua’s cottage. Despite their best efforts to stay out of trouble, the three manage to encounter a group of crooks hiding out in a supposed abandoned shack on the river. However, one of the crooks decides to join forces with the youths to save the day and defeat the remaining crooks who are holding a large cache of stolen weapons.

Thunder Valley Poster

Thunder Valley [1985]

If you haven’t see these films yet, we encourage you to do so. Despite the trying circumstances of the time, so much talent and effort went into these films and it is important that this is recognized.

 

International Women’s Day: Empowering Women in Film

In honor of Women’s month, it is important to reflect on the importance of women’s empowerment and to acknowledge some of the many struggles that women were faced with. There are a wide variety of films which depict this theme, and we encourage everyone to watch, learn and enjoy!

“Thelma and Louise” [1991] – one of the world’s “must see” women-empowerment films, is an ultimate classic about two women who decide to break out of their societal roles as women by hitting the road and embarking on a new journey. Their adventure, however, turns into a flight when Louise kills a man who threatens to rape Thelma. They decide to go to Mexico, but soon they are hunted by American police.

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Thelma and Louise [1991]

The film has many themes: Laughter, sadness, fear, and endurance. But overall, it gives viewers a feeling of happiness and comfort. It reflects on the importance of a strong bond between two women, and their efforts to help and love one another at their darkest of times. Women’s month reminds us to love, value, and respect all women, no matter their race, ethnicity or social class.

“Yesterday” [2004] is a South African film which captures a Zulu woman’s journey as she discovers that she is HIV positive. She must deal with consequences of her illness, but her singular motivation is to see that Beauty, her five year old daughter, enrolls in school the next fall. This is a significant and inspiring film, which portrays a woman in distress as she struggles to balance her relationship with her daughter and husband, and of course her newly diagnosed illness. Despite this, she chooses to remain positive and strong for her family. Even in the worst situation, her prime goal is to live long enough to see her daughter go to school.

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Yesterday [2004]

The film portrays a woman’s strength, courage, and bravery, and is a role model to all mothers and wives.

International Women’s Month reminds us to lead by example as strong women and the importance of women empowerment.

 

Bringing Lost African Gems Straight to your Living Room on Mzansi Bioskop

Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s Retro Afrika Bioscope and Mzansi Bioskop have teamed up to bring you a starlit line up of lost and forgotten South African films. Over the next couple of months, you can tune in every Sunday at 8pm to DSTV Channel 164, Mzansi Bioskop to feast your eyes on some of the most authentically South African films that was produced in the 70’s and 80’s. These films showcase all-African casts and in a number of local languages with English subtitles.

Umbngo_A4

“Umbango” will have it’s first ever TV premiere this coming Sunday. The film was produced and directed by Tonie van der Merwe, starring Popo Gumede, Hector Mathanda and Kay Magubane and is arguably one of the first all African cast isiZulu Westerns. The film was digitally restored by Gravel Road Entertainment Group and was, together with the film Joe Bullet, official selection in the Forum section at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015. Both films had sell out audiences at the festival. “As the first producer and director of an African language film, it gives me great pride to finally get some recognition for our contribution to the South African film industry. I am proud of what we have achieved and it’s a great honour and privilege to experience this moment. It’s a shame that most of these actors such as Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez and Hector Mathanda cannot be here today to see these films on TV. Thank you again to all the actors and my colleges. I salute you!!” says Tonie van der Merwe.

Umbango1

About “Umbango”
When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to stand their ground and fight back. It all comes to a head in a final gun-fight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be split if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

Retro Afrika Bioscope is Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s specialty release label for classic retro African content. In 2013, Gravel Road launched an initiative to locate, digitally restore and re-release films produced for the oppressed majority (African) audiences in the 70’s and 80’s under the old South African film subsidy schemes. All films being released by Retro Afrika Bioscope undergo a highly specialized digital restoration process.

The line-up of films for the month of July includes, Abathumbi (Starring: Innocent Gumede and Khulekani Magubane), Zero for Zep (Starring: So Mhlanga and Khulekani Magubane), Umgulukudu (Starring: Roy Dlamini and Mandla Ngoya) and Thunder Valley (Starring: Roy Dlamini and Mandla Ngoya).

More information on these films are available on:
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/retroafrika/
YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMR66tlg7C2Yp-10tHNH1SA

Finding the Forgotten Cinematic Jewels of Africa

retro africa

Gravel Road Entertainment Group is a Cape Town based entertainment company that focuses on creating quality film content. Aimed to enrich people’s lives and designed to be distributed across all market channels.

We then thought of an innovative idea to be distinct from other Film Companies and gave birth to a creatively genius idea. This is when Retro Afrika Bioscope was born. The initial idea behind this speciality release label was to locate, acquire, restore and expose once discarded and forgotten Classic African films to a whole new generation of African Cinema lovers around the world. Many of these films were banned from South African screens back then.

retro

These stories brought some form of elude from what was happening in South Africa during 1960 till 1990. We all know that apartheid was brutal at that time and entertainment was very minimal due to South Africa’s harsh policies.

Even though black South African actors were very exploited back then we could see from the content they were generating that they loved what they were doing and enjoyed the platform they received which means they were made for this and nothing else made them happier than being in front of the camera.

All in all, these films, filmmakers and actors created a legacy for themselves and made a historical monument which Gravel Road Entertainment Group has brought forth and allowed our generation to enjoy Mzanzi’s own film ancestors. “Mayibuye I’Retro Afrika Bioscope Mayibuye” enjoy the African Cinematic jewels!!!

Written by: Thokozile Nwebani

Tonie van der Merwe receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Port Elizabeth.

Cape Town – Tonie van der Merwe, once dubbed the father of the “black” film industry in South Africa, received the Life Time Achievement award last week at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in Port Elizabeth. Mr. van der Merwe created some 400 films in the 1970s and ’80s, including“Joe Bullet,” one of the country’s first all-black cast film.

Tonie Stills Linked Comp 01 (0-00-01-05)

His movies launched the careers of many African actors and nurtured a generation of African film technicians and production hands. The majority of his films were distributed by means of an informal rural distribution network, reaching audiences estimated at in excess of hundreds of thousands.

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In 1973 the South African film Joe Bullet was banned by the apartheid government after its second screening at the Eyethu Cinema in Soweto. Though the ban was later lifted, producers never pursued another release until 2013.

The film premiered at the 2014 Durban International Film Festival. It also featured at the To Save and Project Film Preservation Festival in New York in November 2014. It was then screened at the Carthage International Film Festival in Tunisia, after which it travelled to Germany for the 65th Berlinale Film Festival in February 2015.

Established in 2005, AMAA aims to facilitate the development and relevance of African film & cinema by providing a rewards & recognition platform for filmmakers on the continent. African film makers work hard with very little and have, not through serendipity but through sheer audacity, managed to build the 3rd largest film industry in the world, and are poised to take poll position, beating America and India.

Today, African films serve as a link for Africans in the Diaspora with Africans at home. These films have the potential to serve as a shared collective experience, a reminder that Africa is a vibrant continent filled with colour, energy and possibility.

Tonie, on receiving his award, “I’ve had a good inning as a film maker and it’s probably time to pack away the cameras and lights, but I want to make one last film with an African producer. Hopefully in the near future.”

Content inspired by:

Screen Africa article 14th October 2014

AMAA website: http://www.ama-awards.com/v/index.php/amaa/about-amaa