Impango I

Impango South African Cinema
Director Tonie Van Der Merwe Cast Khulekani Magubane
Producer Hettie Van Der Merwe Gugu Mhlanga
Writer Alida Hand Tim Mtshali
DOP Tonie Van Der Merwe Hector Mathanda
Editor Steve Hand Victor Nondangala
Sound Steve Hand Abel Msani
Y.O.P 1980’s Sally Mabaso
Running Time 81 min Sallah Madupe
Language isiZulu Mr Mhlongo
Genre Crime

When a wealthy businessman’s wife is abducted by three thugs looking for a R20,000 ransom fee, the man will have to play a very clever game if he hopes to ever see his wife again. In the end, his wife proves to be a resourceful and resilient woman. She saves her husband’s life in return, when it seems he may just be killed for his bravery.

The leader of the thugs is sent to prison. But with only one of his men dead, it’s anyone’s guess where his other henchman have disappeared to….

Impango South African Cinema

Impango South African Cinema

Fishy Stones

Fishy Stones South African Cinema
Director Tonie Van Der Merwe Cast Innocent “Popo” Gumede
Producer Pedre Dippenaar Hector Matanda
Writer Lianja Scripts Mandla Ngoya
DOP Tonie Cunningham Lungi Mdladla
Editor Fred Ridgard Max Mkhwanazi
Sound Wally Booysen
Y.O.P 1980’s
Running Time 70 min
Language isiZulu
Genre Crime / Drama

After a well-executed jewellery store heist, two amateur thugs go on the run. The police are not too far behind and after a chase through the countryside, the thugs are apprehended – but only after they stash their loot in a clump of nearby bushes.

When two best friends head off into the wilderness on a camping expedition together, luck seems to be on their side when they discover the hidden stash of diamonds. After a daring escape from prison, the two thugs pick up the trail of the friends, hunting them down in order to reclaim their loot.

In the end, the boys’ parents come to their rescue, and the two dim-witted criminals are sent back to jail once more – hopefully for good this time!

Fishy Stones South African Cinema

Fishy Stones South African Cinema



Director Tonie Van Der Merwe Cast Innocent “Popo” Gumede
Producer Steve Hand Kay Magubane
Writer Pat Johnston Hector Mathanda
DOP Tonie Van Der Merwe Dumisani Shongwe
Editor N/A Vincent Velekazi
Sound Edwin Knopf Vusi Gudazi
Y.O.P approx. 1986 Fikile Majozi
Running Time 70 min Mac Mkhwanazi
Language isiZulu Emmanuel Shangase
Genre Western

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 spilt if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

Umbango South African Cinema

Umbango South African Cinema

Umbango South African Cinema

Umbango South African Cinema

20 Fast Facts About Us

Framegrab from "Zero for Zep"

Framegrab from “Zero for Zep”

+ We work out of the Waterfront Film Studios in Cape Town

+ We have the only restoration facility in the Southern Hemisphere

+ We are a label of Gravel Road Entertainment Group in South Africa. See our Google+ pages here and here

+ It takes about 4-6 weeks to restore a film

+ All our films are from the 70’s/80’s in South Africa

+ Lots of films were made during this time because the government created a film subsidy that promoted the production of film. There were two subsidies: one that was geared toward white films being produced for white audiences and there was one for black audiences. The idea behind that was to create entertainment for the majority of the population to keep their minds off of any form of political unrest

+ We acquire distribution rights by tracking down these films and tracking down the owners. We then approach the owners and buy over the rights of the film

+ We identify restoration projects once we scan the films. We make the call then on whether or not there’s a commercial life on the film

+ We are trying to track down the actors from the movies to show you where they are now

+ Our most popular films so far have been “Joe Bullet” and “Trompie

+ “Joe Bullet” has been coined South Africa’s first Blaxploitation film. It’s based off of the American Blaxploitation film “Shaft,” which was made in 1973. It was banned in South Africa when it came out in 1973. It has its own IMDB page

+ We’ve appeared on CNBC, SABC, DSTV for interviews. See all our videos here

+ We’re on Twitter here and Facebook here

+ We have our very first DVD coming out in stores across South Africa. It’s our restored version of “Trompie”. “Trompie” is so popular it has its own Facebook page here

+ We have just come back from France for the “Lumiere 2014” Film Festival where we showed our restored version of “Joe Bullet”. “Joe Bullet” is so popular it has its own Facebook page here

+ We appeared recently in Variety magazine

+ We’ve just joined Pinterest! Check out our awesome board here

+ We love YouTube. We have a channel here

+ The producer of a number of the films, Tonie van der Merwe, came with us to the Durban International Film Festival this year where he won an award

+ The first time these films were ever seen on TV was during the Mayibuye Film Festival on SABC1 earlier this year

Framegrab from "Fishy Stones" which showed in Johannesburg recently

Framegrab from “Fishy Stones” which showed in Johannesburg recently

The Retro Afrika Team on “Film SA” DSTV 404!

Zero for Zep screen grab Retro Afrika

Screen grab from “Zero for Zep”

Retro Afrika Bioscope will be featured in a new series for Film SA on SABC News DSTV Channel 404. Starting tonight at 5:30pm and repeating tomorrow at 12:30pm, the series will run for the next 6 weeks every Friday at 5:30pm. Each episode will highlight one of the team members behind the magic of the Retro Afrika label. Tune in! Tonight’s feature will be on Reginald Pillay.

Watch our coverage on CNBC Africa which also goes behind the scenes at Gravel Road Entertainment’s offices. See the magic of restoring these vintage classics for yourself!

Reginald Pillay Lab Technician

Reginald Pillay Lab Technician

Silwerskerm Film Festival Screens “Trompie”

Trompie South African Cinema 1975 RetroAfrika Bioscope

The Silwerskerm Film Festival is an annual gathering for mostly Afrikaans filmmakers. It’s a 4-day marathon which showcases the best new South African films at the kykNET Silwerskermfees. The festival is predominantly Afrikaans, but English stand-outs like the Durban International Film Festival award-winning “Durban Poison” was also screened.

In addition to the feature films, the end results of a competition that develops script ideas from first-time filmmakers of all ages were screened. This isn’t just a film festival that showcases the best of the best. It nurtures new talent and gives it a valuable platform.

One of our more recently restored films, “Trompie”, was also screened at the venue. Directed by legendary Tonie van der Merwe in the 70’s, about 15-30 people in the room watched as a digitally remastered version of a South African classic was screened. “Trompie” is a compact, highly enjoyable and kinetic comedy feature.

“Trompie” also has some well-crafted English subtitles for non-Afrikaans audience.



Benjamin Thomas Cowley – CEO of Gravel Road Entertainment Group & Founder of Gravel Road African Film Legacy Initiative

Benjamin Cowley

Photos by: Patrick Ryan

Shot on location at the Waterfront Film Studios, Cape Town

Ben started in TV more than 14 years ago where he was involved in both live and pre-recorded programs at Namibia’s one and only national broadcaster: NBC.  Without giving away his real age…. He was VERY young and earned a salary of R50 per month for his sins.

Fast-forward several years, he found himself in the fantastical world of TV Commercials hoping this industry to be full of excitement, glitz and glamour. Needless to say, this pre-conceived notion couldn’t be further from the truth! Becoming a slave of the ad world for many years, he at least got to play with really expensive toys and very soon learned that there’s no problem in the advertising world that the client’s money can’t solve.

His passion has always been in story telling and creative filmmaking, so it was a no-brainer that when the slightest opportunity to jump ship came ….he took the plunge.

The Legacy Initiative (Retro Afrika Bioscope) is Ben’s baby and it’s his responsibility to nurture it and allow it to grow to its full potential. He works closely with the original filmmakers, film owners and national film, video and sound archives in sourcing/locating all the old films and getting them to Cape Town to restore them and ultimately get them onto a platform where the public can view them.

Ben is balding and proudly accepts it!

Benjamin Cowley, Katlego Maboe and Tonie vd Merwe on the Expresso Show on SABC

Benjamin Cowley, Katlego Maboe and Tonie vd Merwe on the Expresso Show on SABC

CEO of Gravel Road Entertainment Group at the press launch of the Mayibuye Film Festival in Johannesburg

CEO of Gravel Road Entertainment Group at the press launch of the Mayibuye Film Festival in Johannesburg


Bona Manzi

BonaManzi South African Films

Starring Sipho Menyeni, Martin Potgieter, John Mtsali and Sithembiso Fusa, this 70 minute action film was shot in 1989. It was produced by Oubaas Olivier and directed by Tonie vd Merwe.


A game ranger and his chief ranger set out on a daring rescue mission when his two nephews are kidnapped by dangerous poachers deep in the African bush.


Two young brothers travel out to the countryside to visit with their game ranger uncle during their school holidays.

It is here on the ranch, under their uncle’s teachings, that they learn about the beauties of the African bush and the wildlife living there.

One morning the two boys head out alone into the wilderness to go explore and accidentally stumble across a group of poachers. The boys are kidnapped and it is left to the uncle and the Chief Ranger to set out on a daring and dangerous rescue mission to save the children and apprehend the poachers.

Bonamanzi South African Films