South African Filmmaker making it big

South African filmmaker

South African Filmmaker making it big

We all enjoy a ‘rags to riches’ story. And, a South African making it big in Hollywood is just about the biggest story you can get. South Africa has had its small share of glory as a country in Hollywood – with Charlize Theron winning an Oscar for Monster back in 2004, and more recently (2015) Trevor Noah taking the lead at The Daily Show.

But the story we want to share is of Gavin Hood filmmaker, who is less in the limelight, more in the background. How much do you know about this South African filmmaker success story?

Where does this South African filmmaker come from?

Gavin Hood didn’t believe a successful career in filmmaking was on the cards for him, as a South African, so he studied law. It was while practising law that he found his way into film anyway. He was cast in the South African television series The Game in 1989 and, after that, decided to leave law behind and pursue his love for film. In 1991, he went to LA to study screenwriting and directing at the University of California and, as it turned out, found his true calling behind the camera.

Gavin Hood’s Filmmaker Career

South African filmmaker

After studying in California, Gavin Hood filmmaker returned to SA where he won an Artes Award for his work in an educational drama for the Department of Health. In 1998, he made a short film called The Storekeeper which won 13 awards at international film festivals. This success led him to be able to co-produce and direct a feature film based on a screenplay he wrote and won an award for while studying in California, called A Reasonable Man. This movie too won many international awards. After this success, Gavin worked on a Polish film set in Africa called In Desert and Wilderness, which went on to become the highest-grossing film in Poland in 2001, also winning international awards.

In 2003, Gavin wrote and directed a screenplay based on the novel Tsotsi by SA writer, Athol Fugard … and the rest, as they say, is history. Tsotsi won the People’s Choice award at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, was nominated for a Screen International Award at the European Film Awards, and won an Academy Award – amongst others.

Since then he has directed Rendition (2007) starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) starring Hugh Jackman, Ender’s Game (2013) starring Harrison Ford, and Eye in the Sky (2015) starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul.

What is Gavin doing now?

South African filmmaker, Gavin Hood, bounces back and forth between London and Joburg, and he says it’s his legal background that draws him towards stories – he favours ones that offer a moral or ethical dilemma. The Storekeeper, for example, examined how far you can go in defence of your property.

His latest project, Official Secrets (2019) starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, premiered at Sundance and earned a standing ovation from the audience – and IFC Films acquired the US rights. With a strong woman at the helm of this movie, Gavin explores the theme of loyalty, and it looks as if he has another box officer winner on his hands.

Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, South African filmmakers, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.

And, please do follow us on social media.

The rise of the drive-in cinemas

drive-in cinemas

Remember the days of bundling into the backseat to make your way to the drive-in cinema?  Or, meeting friends to watch the latest movie, with popcorn and a drink too large? These seem to be distant memories for most of us now. While the reopening of cinemas in South Africa is now allowed, these spaces will not be back to ‘business as usual’ for a while. Cinemas need to open in compliance with measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

What does this mean? To comply with social distancing protocols, cinemas will only allow 50 people or less in at one time. There are also limitations on operating hours, service, and contact. For places such as Ster-Kinekor, limiting contact is easy, with movies tickets and snacks being available for purchase through their app or website. But for smaller, private cinemas this can be tricky.

If the idea of being in a cinema with 49 other people still makes you nervous, we may have the answer to your movie cravings. It seems that the pandemic has seen a rise in the return of the drive-in cinema. Now there’s a distant, and fond, memory.

Drive-in cinemas around the world

It makes sense that as the pandemic continues and moviegoers are hesitant to venture out, that cinemas will see a decline in attendance. In contrast, drive-in or open-air cinemas may see an increase in popularity.

Here are just three examples of the return of the drive-in cinema.

Galileo Open Air Cinema

drive-in cinemas

Already bringing cinema to the outdoors, Galileo holds open-air cinema options throughout South Africa, in beautiful settings too. But now they are offering a drive-in cinema experience to keep things COVID-friendly. You can buy tickets and food online, and when you arrive, you park, cuddle and enjoy the film from the comfort of your own car.

Walmart Pop-up Drive-in Cinemas

drive-in cinemas

For the summer, Walmart will transform 160 parking lots into drive-in cinemas. The movies featured will be programmed by Tribeca Enterprises, which also brings music and sporting events to other drive-ins throughout the US. Walmart will also offer concessions that are ordered online for curbside pick-up ahead of the movie screening.

Floating Cinema in Paris

drive-in cinemas

Okay, so this one was just a one-off but is still worth mentioning. The city of Paris made a big event out of the announcement that cinemas were reopening. They arranged an organised screening of the French movie ‘Le grand bain’ on the banks of the Seine. Moviegoers attended on boats and deck chairs on the bank of the river. Now that’s style.

With many movie-lovers still quite apprehensive at the thought of going back into the cinemas, we hope to see many more open-air or drive-in cinema options open throughout South Africa over the summer. We are desperate to have our favourite past-time back, in one form or another.

Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.

And, please do follow us on social media.

What Was Happening When

TreasureHunter-framegrabs-13

1989 – Treasure Hunters

After hearing a tale of a mysterious lost treasure, an old man’s family heads off on a perilous journey only to suffer the same fate as the shipwrecked survivors from sixty years ago.

+ Jan 8 The African National Congress announces that it will start dismantling its guerrilla camps in Angola in support of the peace process.

+ Jan 18 State President of South Africa P.W. Botha has a mild stroke.

+ Feb 2 An ailing State President Pieter Willem Botha steps down from the leadership of the National Party, but remains state president.

+ Feb 2 Trevor Manuel is released from detention under stringent restriction orders.

+ March 15–21 A conference of African National Congress chief representatives and regional treasurers takes place in Gran, Norway.

+ Date Unknown An explosion occurs outside the Natal Command HQ on Durban‘s beachfront.

+ May 5 Three South African Embassy staff are ordered to leave Britain within 7 days because of the attempted smuggling of a Blowpipe missile.

+ May 17 Tumelo Faith Sindane is born at Zebediela.

+ July 5 PW Botha, State President of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, in prison at the time, meet for the first time.

+ August 10 The Cabinet prevails on P.W. Botha to resign as state president and FW de Klerk becomes acting State President of South Africa.

+ Date Unknown A grenade is thrown into a Labour Party polling station in Bishop Lavis.

+ September 12 Anton Lubowski, advocate and secretary-general of the South West Africa People’s Organization, is shot dead outside his home in Windhoek, South West Africa.

+ November 27 The Hex River Tunnels system is officially opened. The system’s longest tunnel is 13.5 kilometres (8.4 miles) long, the longest railway tunnel in Africa.

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What Was Happening When

Hostage RetroAfrika

1980 – Hostage

+ 25 Jan Three Umkhonto we Sizwe terrorists kill two civilians and hold the staff and customers in a bank in Silverton in Pretoria hostage. The siege ends in a shoot-out with the police in which all three terrorists are killed

+ 26 March A mine lift cage at the Vaal Reefs gold mine in South Africa falls 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles), killing 23

+ 12 March In Pretoria nine people are sentenced to five years imprisonment for training as guerrillas outside South Africa and recruiting others to undergo training

+ 4 April Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks the Booysens Police Station in Johannesburg with grenades, rocket launchers and AK47s

+ 21 April More than sixty coloured high schools, teacher training colleges and the University of the Western Cape start boycotting classes

+ 29 April In Johannesburg hundreds of coloured school children are arrested in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act during a student-police confrontation

+ 1 June Bombs explode at Sasol One and Two and Natref Eight at Sasolburg and Secunda, with no injuries and RM58 damage. The attack was organised by Solomon Mahlangu of the Umkhonto weSizwe Special Operations

+ 29 Oct Umkhonto we Sizwe insurgents throw two grenades into the government buildings of the West Rand Administration Board and injure a security guard and his friend.

Hostage-16

Hostage RetroAfrika

Hostage RetroAfrika

Hostage RetroAfrika

What Was Happening When

Rich Girl Stills

1980 – Rich Girl

+ 25 Jan Three Umkhonto we Sizwe terrorists kill two civilians and hold the staff and customers in a bank in Silverton in Pretoria hostage. The siege ends in a shoot-out with the police in which all three terrorists are killed

+ 26 March A mine lift cage at the Vaal Reefs gold mine in South Africa falls 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles), killing 23

+ 12 March In Pretoria nine people are sentenced to five years imprisonment for training as guerrillas outside South Africa and recruiting others to undergo training

+ 4 April Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks the Booysens Police Station in Johannesburg with grenades, rocket launchers and AK47s

+ 21 April More than sixty coloured high schools, teacher training colleges and the University of the Western Cape start boycotting classes

+ 29 April In Johannesburg hundreds of coloured school children are arrested in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act during a student-police confrontation

+ 1 June Bombs explode at Sasol One and Two and Natref Eight at Sasolburg and Secunda, with no injuries and RM58 damage. The attack was organised by Solomon Mahlangu of the Umkhonto weSizwe Special Operations

+ 29 Oct Umkhonto we Sizwe insurgents throw two grenades into the government buildings of the West Rand Administration Board and injure a security guard and his friend.

Rich Girl Stills

Rich Girl Stills

Rich Girl Stills

Rich Girl Stills

What Was Happening When

Hostage Waterfront Film Studios

1980 – Hostage 

+ Jan 14 The local community at Soekmekaar resists forced removal and damages the police station.

+ Jan 25 Three Umkhonto we Sizwe terrorists, Stephen Mafoko, Humphrey Makhubo and Wilfred Madela, kill two civilians and hold the staff and customers in a bank in Silverton in Pretoria hostage. The siege ends in a shoot-out with the police in which all three terrorists are killed.

+ March 12 In Pretoria nine people are sentenced to five to seven years imprisonment for training as guerrillas outside South Africa and recruiting others to undergo training.

+ March 26 A mine lift cage at the Vaal Reefs gold mine in South Africa falls 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles), killing 23.

+ April 4 Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks the Booysens Police Station in Johannesburg with grenades, rocket launchers and AK47s.

+ April 21 More than sixty coloured high schools, teacher training colleges and the University of the Western Cape start boycotting classes.

+ Oct 14 The Soweto community calls for a stayaway to protest against rent increases.

+ Oct 15 A bomb damages a railway line in Dube, Soweto and Piet Koornhof, minister of co-operation and development, visits the scene.

+ Nov 21 A terrorist is killed in Chiawelo and a child is injured by police in the process.

What Was Happening When

Gone Crazy Screen Grab Retro Afrika

1980 – Gone Crazy 

+ Jan 14 The local community at Soekmekaar resists forced removal and damages the police station.

+ Jan 25 Three Umkhonto we Sizwe terrorists, Stephen Mafoko, Humphrey Makhubo and Wilfred Madela, kill two civilians and hold the staff and customers in a bank in Silverton in Pretoria hostage. The siege ends in a shoot-out with the police in which all three terrorists are killed.

+ March 12 In Pretoria nine people are sentenced to five to seven years imprisonment for training as guerrillas outside South Africa and recruiting others to undergo training.

+ March 26 A mine lift cage at the Vaal Reefs gold mine in South Africa falls 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles), killing 23.

+ April 4 Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks the Booysens Police Station in Johannesburg with grenades, rocket launchers and AK47s.

+ April 21 More than sixty coloured high schools, teacher training colleges and the University of the Western Cape start boycotting classes.

+ Oct 14 The Soweto community calls for a stayaway to protest against rent increases.

+ Oct 15 A bomb damages a railway line in Dube, Soweto and Piet Koornhof, minister of co-operation and development, visits the scene.

+ Nov 21 A terrorist is killed in Chiawelo and a child is injured by police in the process.

For more info on how to buy a copy of one of our DVDs, contact us here.

What Was Happening When

Umbango

The RetroAfrika “What Was Happening When” series is now in its 7th week! Here’s this week’s instalment – what was happening in South Africa when “Umbango” was produced.

1986 – Umbango

+ 7 Jan  A grenade is thrown at a Railways policeman in Soweto.

+ 8 Jan  A Pretoria sub-station is damaged by an explosion.

+ 9 Jan  A limpet mine explodes at 21h15 and damages a substation in Jacobs, Durban. Later a second limpet explodes, killing a policeman and injuring other policemen and two electrical workers who arrive at the scene.

+ 4 Feb Four South African Army soldiers are injured when a cadre throws a grenade into their military vehicle at Gugulethu.

+ 9 Feb A limpet mine destroys two police vehicles at Umlazi police station near Durban when parked after returning from riot patrol.

+ 21 March Four mines explode at an Escom sub-station in Durban.

+ 8 April The home of the former Labour Party secretary in Natal, Kevin Leaf, is attacked.

+ 12 June The Government declares a nationwide state of emergency.

+ 1 July An explosion outside the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg injures eight civilians.

+ 15 August Trevor Manuel is detained for the second time, this time only to be released in 1988.

+ 4 November A landmine kills a soldier on horseback in the eastern Transvaal.

+ 19 Dec A grenade attack is executed on the home of a Soweto councillor and two policemen are injured.

What Was Happening When

Revenge-Stills-1

1986 – Revenge

+ 7 Jan  A grenade is thrown at a Railways policeman in Soweto.

+ 8 Jan  A Pretoria sub-station is damaged by an explosion.

+ 9 Jan  A limpet mine explodes at 21h15 and damages a substation in Jacobs, Durban. Later a second limpet explodes, killing a policeman and injuring other policemen and two electrical workers who arrive at the scene.

+ 4 Feb Four South African Army soldiers are injured when a cadre throws a grenade into their military vehicle at Gugulethu.

+ 9 Feb A limpet mine destroys two police vehicles at Umlazi police station near Durban when parked after returning from riot patrol.

+ 21 March Four mines explode at an Escom sub-station in Durban.

+ 8 April The home of the former Labour Party secretary in Natal, Kevin Leaf, is attacked.

+ 12 June The Government declares a nationwide state of emergency.

+ 1 July An explosion outside the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg injures eight civilians.

+ 15 August Trevor Manuel is detained for the second time, this time only to be released in 1988.

+ 4 November A landmine kills a soldier on horseback in the eastern Transvaal.

+ 19 Dec A grenade attack is executed on the home of a Soweto councillor and two policemen are injured.

What Was Happening When

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1987 – Ezintandaneni 

+ 1 Jan  South African Defence Force servicemen are attacked in Alexandra, Johannesburg and at least one is injured

+ 9 Jan Police raid English-language newspapers, seizing documents related to an advertisement calling for the legalising of the African National Congress

+ 2 Feb The single quarters of the Bokomo Police Station is attacked twice with grenades and one policeman is injured

+ 18 Feb A number of people are killed in a grenade attack on Tladi Secondary School

+ 12 March  Sweden announces a total boycott on trade with South Africa, effective from October

+ 20 July  A car bomb explodes outside a block of flats in District Six, Cape Town, with no injuries

+ 30 July A car bomb explodes outside the Witwatersrand Command and kills one soldier and injures 68 people

+ 3 August 23 conscripts publicly announce in Cape Town that they refuse to serve in the SADF

+ 23 August A shop in Emdeni, frequented by soldiers, is attacked with grenades

+ 28 November South African Airways Flight 295 crashes into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius due to a fire in the cargo hold, killing 159 passengers and crew

+ 10 December During a police raid on a shack in the Port Elizabeth area, they meet heavy resistance from the residents. The police drive a Casspir over the shack, killing four