2020 Wrap up – Movie-making during lockdown

Movie-making

Perhaps the key phrase to use here is in the heading itself, 2020 Wrap up – Movie-making during lockdown. Yes, wrap it up and throw it away, to the deepest part of the ocean, for it never to return.

Yes, those are the sentiments of many, I am sure, but was it all bad? Was 2020 the plot of the best motion picture ever made or of a failed blockbuster?

How did South Africa manage movie-making during lockdown?

The first South African movie filmed, produced and edited during the lockdown, could be coming to a small screen near you sooner than later! Cabin Fever, produced and directed by a Safta award-winning director, Tim Greene.  It is a movie true to its name and has a storyline everyone can relate to, COVID-19. One of about 19 films produced during the lockdown period, so it seems the South African movie industry worked around all its many challenges and was quietly triumphant.

Movie-making

How did Hollywood manage movie-making during lockdown?

In true American style, they marched on! As was the case worldwide in the movie-making industry. Production slowed dramatically, but scenes were still filmed at the actors’ homes, sent through to producers via technology, the producer would then watch and send back the scene with critique for a retake, and so it went!  Albeit in a different way, movies were still being made!

2020 Wrap Up – Movie-making during lockdown.

The movie industry’s excitement heightens as 2020 comes to an end, as great movies, which were supposed to be released earlier this year, and weren’t due to the worldwide pandemic, will be here soon!

Feature films like The Batman, The Beatles: Get Back, Antlers and The Artists Wife will be releasing in the first half of the new year, and 2021 promises to be more entertaining than the year that was 2020!

Actors and actresses have had to become versatile and learn to do things differently, as has been the case for anyone holding down a job. Our working environments are now ‘business as unusual,’ and that’s the new normal!

Movie-making

And that’s a wrap!

The film industry is arguably one of the most impactful sectors in modern society. Sitcoms and comedy shows make us laugh, psychological thrillers help us see the world from an improved perspective, and historical films help us understand where we’ve come from as a people. A virus certainly won’t stop movie making and bring this multibillion-dollar industry to a standstill!

Head over to our website to see more exciting reads.

The makings of a good Christmas movie!

christmas movie

Every good Christmas movie seems to have a common thread … a happy ending, right?  So, could this ‘happy ending’ be the reason we all inevitably watch at least one Christmas movie during the season?

The Christmas Movie countdown

Every year, from mid-October until just before the new year, all the television channels offer us various Christmas movies. Whether it be old traditional films, like A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965, or a more recent, not so conventional Christmas movie, like The Holiday from 2006, the common thread seems to be the same, in pursuit of a happy ending. Are we all secretly in need of a ‘happy ending’ moment and hence, love or hate this festive time of the year, we watch a Christmas movie?

Choosing the right movie for the family

Dad wants something with fast-moving cars and action. Mom would prefer romance and perhaps a little drama. And the kids, well, let’s be honest, if it’s not about a cell phone, Fortnight, or a teleporting specialist, you will not get them to pay attention long enough to understand the plot anyway! So, how do you choose the right movie for the family?

As it is with Christmas, it’s all about the children!  Usually, it’s the youngest member of the family who gets to choose, and everyone else sits through the movie, either loving it or hating it, but watching it none the less, all in anticipation of the ‘happy ending.’

Making the Christmas movie night a tradition

In all good Christmas movies, there is usually one thing that keeps you watching.  Sometimes it is the inevitable snowfall at midnight or the return of a long-lost family member; whatever it may be, it keeps us vested and waiting in anticipation.  These emotions displayed in a movie stir up a sentiment we can easily relate to.  A good feeling. A happy ending. We enjoy that feeling and want more of it, and so,  the tradition of watching Christmas movies at Christmas time is born.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So yes, perhaps it’s the big lunch gathering or the corny Christmas jokes every year without fail that makes you enjoy the holiday. But, ultimately, the Christmas movie you choose to watch as a family sets the tone for a memorable fun experience, one you talk about year after year.  The one with the makings of a good Christmas movie.

Head over to our website to see more exciting reads.

Horror Films: Keeping us Scared

Horror

Humans have been telling horror stories and folklore for thousands of years, through oral history, literature, and, finally, film. One film genre that has evolved drastically since being introduced in the 1920s is horror. 

Come with us on a little trip down memory lane, and find out why we love horror films so much

At the start of the genre, in the 1920s and 30s, literary classics brought us the first horror films, like FrankensteinDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Werewolf. As they started to develop beyond that many viewers became unnerved and heavy censoring took place. 

Frankenstein

Then came the slasher genre in the 1940s, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock with Psycho closely followed by the theme of radioactive mutation. As war was ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout were high, horror introduced us to Godzilla, The War of the Worlds, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

The 1950s and 60s were seen as the ‘gimmicky’ years, with 3D glasses, electric buzzers, and paid stooges performing in the audience. These gimmicks, unfortunately, cost a lot of money and led the movies themselves being low budget. 

The late 1960s saw an American appetite for gore and the arrival of zombie movies, the most popular one to note being Night of the Living Dead.

The 1970s and 80s took a turn towards the occult, most particularly featuring houses and children possessed by the devil, think The Exorcist and The Omen. This is also when supernatural horror films based on literature makes a comeback – with Stephen King novels entering with Carrie and The Shining

The Exorcist

The slasher genre reared its head again in the 1980s. If you were a bunch of kids, a relentless antagonist was hunting you down. Most popular, at the time, was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The 1990s was a particularly poor time for horror; computer-generated special effects were making an appearance and brought with it uninspiring monster movies such as Anaconda and Deep Rising. Luckily there were a few comedy horrors in this time that were enjoyable such as Scream and Braindead

The 2000s too were quite disappointing, only with the zombie subgenre bringing some intrigue with 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and I Am Legend

We are now seeing extremely original horror films emerging, giving us hope that the genre will continue to offer new intrigue for those who love a little fright with their Friday night movies. With releases like Insidious, Cabin in the Woods, and It Follows it seems as though the genre is moving into a very creative space. 

It Follows

Fear on Demand

If you’re looking to find the best genre titles the world has to offer, head off to frightfan.tv. This is a progressive website application which means that you can watch films on your pc, laptop or mobile device (Android and Apple devices running iOS9.3 or higher) without having to download an app. 

Each film is available on the service for 60 days, with new additions every week. If you can’t find it here, request it, and we will do our best to get it. R25,00 / US$1,70 per rental. Watch the film as many times as you like in 48 hours. 

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

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.

Retro Afrika Bioscope celebrating Heritage Day

This Saturday, South Africa will be celebrating Heritage Day.  And, with Retro Afrika Bioscope playing such a significant role in restoring and preserving this beautiful country’s diverse film heritage it seems only fit to dedicate a blog to this awesome day!!! It’s also very important to remember where it all started and what significance it has to the people of South Africa and our rainbow nation.

The History

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In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, President Nelson Mandela stated: “When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

And thus Heritage Day was born, to be celebrated every year on the 24th September. With such a diverse culture and rather than focusing on the cultural divisions, a recent initiative by the Braai4Heritage called upon all South Africans to celebrate their common roots by having a Braai (BBQ) on Heritage Day.

Retro Afrika Bioscope has been dedicated to preserving and restoring lost and forgotten films produced in the 1980s. These films might never have been seen by modern audiences if it wasn’t for this project. We started the long process of sourcing these films and restoring them to their former glory and today they are accessible on various platforms such as DVD and Video on Demand. In South Africa we have partnered with DSTV’s Mzansi Bioskop, channel (164) in bringing these once forgotten African Classics into your living room and this Sundays movie will be ‘Isiqalekiso’ [1980]’.

Isiqalekiso [1980s]

After hearing a story of missing golden treasure, a group of young boys set out on an adventure to look for it. After some time, they eventually find a box believed to be the missing gold. But very soon, the group of friends is overcome with gold-fever and it’s not long before they start turning on one another. When a local thug discovers that the boys have indeed found the hidden treasure, he manages to steal it away from them, and the friends are forces to reconcile and come together in order to retrieve their find and get their own back on the thief.

So how are you going to spend your Heritage Day? If you’re living outside of South Africa. why not go onto FilmDoo, Hoopla Digital or Bigstar to browse through our catalogue of movies and stream these Lost African Classics. You never know, you might find your next favourite between the rich treasures that is South Africa’s film pride and joy.

           

 

Blaxploitation: International Films

Blaxploitation arose at a critical time for the Hollywood film industry. While black political activists battled in the courtrooms and streets for the end of segregation and equal civil rights, it became increasingly difficult for Hollywood studios to ignore black society, which ultimately led to the infiltration of black actors and filmmakers in Hollywood. Thus; Blaxploitation was born. Here are just two examples of the type of films produced in this genre.

Across 110th Street [1972]

This film is set in Harlem, of which 110th street is an informal boundary line. In a daring robbery, some $300,000 is taken from a Mafia-owned Harlem policy bank. Several Mafiosi are killed, as are two policemen. Lieutenant William Pope, played by Yaphet Kotto, has to work with crude, racist but streetwise Italian-American Captain Frank Martelli, played by Anthony Quinn, in the NYPD’s 27th precinct. They are looking for three black men who slaughtered seven men, three black gangsters and two Italian gangsters. Mafia lieutenant Nick D’Salvio, played by Anthony Franciosa, and his two henchmen are also after the hoods. Will the mafia catch these criminals first, or will the police?

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Across 110th Street [1972]

The film has claimed to be more than just a cliché. It was deep and developed, yet had a simplistic story about cops and criminals, with a gritty and honest addition to its characters. It was seen as pure and uncut, with cinematic genius from beginning to end. Despite the many pitfalls seen by critics, the film continually saved itself by being genuine and dark throughout. The film demonstrated the raw force of truth, giving viewers a rare (yet fictional) story of the changing of the guard in Harlem, the truth of its streets, and the minds of its criminals.

Foxy Brown [1974]

A sexy black woman, Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) seeks revenge when her government-agent boyfriend is shot down by gangsters led by the kinky couple of Steve Elias (Peter Brown) and Miss Katherine (Kathryn Loder) that services local judges, congressmen, and police in the area. Foxy decides to pose as a prostitute to infiltrate the company, and helps save a fellow black woman from a life of drugs and sexual exploitation and reunites her with her husband and child. However, not long after she infiltrates the company,  Foxy is caught before she can escape…

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Foxy Brown [1974]

It was this film that catapulted Pam Grier to a level of iconic stardom. Foxy oozes independence and woman empowerment. She’s a ‘whole lotta’ woman who’s got what it takes to beat the baddies at their own game, a voluptuous body, a show-stopping Afro, and, most importantly, a “black belt in barstools”. Together with Jack Hill’s (director) slick direction and an exciting yet soulful Willie Hutch soundtrack, this movie is a modern classic that exceeds the Blaxploitation genre in which it evolved.

There are hundreds of International blaxploitation films on the market which we encourage you to watch. The genre carries many themes to suit your taste, such as action, romance, horror, crime, and sci-fi to name a few. So bring out the popcorn, kick up your feet, and enjoy!

South African Blaxploitation Films

What is Blaxploitation? Blaxploitation was a term coined in the early 1970s to refer to a sub-genre of black cinema, which incorporated the culture of Black people in America and worldwide. Although initially popular, it quickly disintegrated as a film genre criticized for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence.

In retrospect, Blaxploitation and the legacy it left behind have been acknowledged as a positive contribution to African and African-American film history. Blaxploitation films such as Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss song [1971], Coffy [1973], and Dolemite [1975] proved that black actors possessed a strong box-office appeal, and despite the fact that many of the films were written, directed and produced by white people, black audiences finally saw the recognition that African and African-American actors, directors and writers deserved, and fought for, since the early days of silent film. The following South African films, restored by Retro Afrika Bioscope, depict the essence of Blaxploitation.

Umbango (The Feud) [1986]

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 gunfight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be split if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

Bullet On The Run [1982]

Bullet is back, and this time he will have to put his reputation on the line as he goes deep undercover in prison to unfold the mystery of a police corruption ring, being run by one of the most wanted mob bosses in the country, a man known only as Snake.

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Bullet On The Run [1982]

When looking at Blaxploitation films, we can see a historical-cultural significance that comes from a time and place which transcends into the universal truths of freedom, expression, and community. Despite some of the controversy that these films created, it opened the doors to talented African-Americans, ultimately proving to its audience that they could thrive in film. Thus, their achievements speak for themselves.

International Women’s Month: Quotable Quotes by Famous Women in Film

In honour of women in film, we have compiled a list of famous quotes by these elegant, beautiful and talented women. So sit back, relax and enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Practical Magic [1998]

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Nicole Kidman as ‘Gillian Owens’ in Practical Magic

Midnight in Paris [2011]

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Marion Cotillard as ‘Adriana’ in Midnight in Paris

The Color Purple [1985]

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Whoopi Goldberg as ‘Celia’ in The Color Purple

Pretty Woman [1990]

pretty women

Julia Roberts as ‘Vivian’ in Pretty Woman

My Big Fat Greek Wedding [2002]

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Nia Vardalos as ‘Toula Portokalos’ and Lainie Kazan as ‘Maria Portokalos’ in My Big Fat Greek Wedding

The Help [2011]

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Viola Davis as ‘Aibileen Clarke’ in The Help

Before Sunset [2004]

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Julie Delpi as ‘Celine’ in Before Sunset

Sex and the City [1998]

sex and the city

Kim Cattrall as ‘Samantha Jones’ in Sex and the City

And finally, this quote might not be from a particular movie but it sure is worth adding and very true!!! Marilyn was the pure embodiment of female strength, beauty and empowerment. And even though she was not always well behaved in her short but fulfilling life, she definitely made history!!! Happy Women’s Month to all the wonderful women in the world that are making a difference.

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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]

Rear Window

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 neighbours. 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.

Meet me in St.Louis [1944]

Meet me in St. Louis

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.

Libeled Lady [1936]

Libeled Lady

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…

Horse Feathers [1932]

Horse Feathers

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.

Some Like It Hot [1959]

Some like it Hot

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 breathtakingly 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. 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.