A Short (Cool) History of South African Cinema

African Cinema

+ During the 1910s and 1920s, many South African films were made in or around Durban. These films often made use of the dramatic scenery available in rural KwaZulu-Natal, particularly the Drakensberg region.

+ KwaZulu-Natal was also served as the appropriate location for historical films such as De Voortrekkers (1916) and The Symbol of Sacrifice (1918)

African Cinema

Sarie Marais, the first Afrikaans-language sound film, was released in 1931. Subsequent sound releases such as Die Wildsboudjie(1948), a 1949 Sarie Marais remake, and Daar doer in die bosveld (1950) continued to cater primarily to white, Afrikaans-speaking audiences.

+ The 1950s saw an increased use of South African locations and talent by international filmmakers. British co-productions like Coast of Skeletons (1956) and American co-productions like The Cape Town Affair (1957) reflected the a growing trend of shooting in real locations, rather than using backlots.

African Cinema

Our Best Posts of 2014

Our Best Posts Roundup

Over the past 12 months we’ve used ourselves as guinea pigs in a new realm. We’ve worked to see whether it’s the old or new films from South African history which inspire you, we’ve learned how to debut our films abroad, and we’ve found better ways to work, write and create.

The process has been enlightening, productive and ultimately just a lot of fun.

With the new year now in full swing, we’ve put away our holiday overindulgences to take time to reflect on some of our favourite (and most popular) articles of 2014:

Framegrabs of “Trompie”

Silwerskerm Film Festival

Isiboshwa

Interview with Tonie Van Der Merwe

On CNBC

Uthemba

Uthemba South African Cinema
KEY CREW & CAST
Director Rudi Mayer Cast Lucas Tsiane
Producer Rudi Mayer Muntu Ndebele
Writer Rudi Mayer Aaron Mbuli
DOP Rudi Mayer Danney Maphalala
Editor N/A Anton Sibanda
Sound Frank Muller Jerry Ndabukelwayo
Y.O.P 1980’s Patrick Ntuli
Running Time 93 min Josef Mualefe
Language isiZulu Mandy Kunene
Genre Crime / Drama Patricia Mothibedi
SYNOPSIS

Themba is released from serving two years in prison for his best friend, Vusi. Upon his release, he discovers that Vusi, the car thief, has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Thandi. Themba decides to change his fate and become a snitch – helping the police put an end to Vusi’s on-going crime spree. Vusi has Thandi executed, blaming her for his current misfortunes. Themba moves the final chess piece into place, resulting in Vusi’s ultimate demise and capture.

Uthemba South African Cinema

Uthemba 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

Details for Retro Afrika Fest in JHB

jobusy-main-street-life
The Mini Retro Afrika Film Festival in association with The Bioscope Independent Cinema is happening next week in Johannesburg 24th – 26th October. 4 Films will be showcased as part of a mini festival – “Joe Bullet”, “Fishy Stones”, “Trompie” and “Umbango”

Where

286 Fox Street, Johannesburg

When

24th – 26th October

Directions

From the M1 South, go around the city on to the M2 EastTake the Joe Slovo off ramp.

Take Market Street off ramp to your rightKeep right, and go over one set of lights.
At the next set of lights go right into Betty Street.
Take Next right into Fox.
Main Street Life will appear on your left.
The Bioscope is on the ground floor.
The Bioscope is located in the Maboneng Precinct.
There is guarded street parking located directly outside the cinema.
There is also a precinct wide security solution and Jeppe Police Station just around the corner, so you are more than safe!

Programme

Joe Bullet

When a mysterious gangster starts sabotaging soccer team The Eagles’ chance at winning the upcoming championship final, there is only one man who can save the day…Joe Bullet.

FRI 24 OCT 7:30PM BUY TICKETS

SUN 26 OCT 7PM BUY TICKETS 

Retro Afrika Bioscope The Bioscope Joe Bullet

Fishy Stones

After a well-executed jewellery store heist, two amateur thugs go on the run.
But 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.
But life is never that easy, and the two thugs, after a daring escape from prison, 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!

SAT 25 OCT 6PM. BUY TICKETS

Fishy Test The Bioscope

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

SAT 25 OCT 8PM. BUY TICKETS

Umbango The Bioscope

Trompie

The original feature film produced in 1975, based on the books by Topsy Smith that ultimately led to the renowned and well-loved television show, introduces Trompie as a freckle-faced eleven year old boy, and the Big Chief of the Boksom Gang.

Together with his mates Rooie, Blikkies and little Dawie, the young boys embark on a series of mischievous adventures that often land them in hot soup with the townsfolk of their hometown of Kwaggaberg.
Their cajoling with the Reverend’s pet baboon gets completely out of hand and Trompie’s innocent attempts at fixing his sister, Anna, up with a boyfriend goes terribly wrong.

Not only does Trompie and his gang of friends almost ruin the annual school concert, but their shenanigans leads to a bet that Trompie will be able to crash the show and appear on stage that evening. Throughout all these misadventures, Trompie befriends a playful mongrel who belongs to an old man about to leave the town. As the story comes to a close, Trompie will have to watch on as the mangy dog has to choose between staying with the impish young boy or leaving with it’s old master.

SUN 26 OCT 5PM.  BUY TICKETS

Trompie The Bioscope

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

 

Isiboshwa

Isiboshwa South African Films

This 70 minute adventure film was shot in 1989. Produced by Steve Hand and Directed by Tonie vd Merwe, it stars Sizwe Dlamini, Popo Gumede and Hector Mathanda. Catch it on SABC1 this Sunday at 8:30pm as part of the Mayibuye Film Festival!

TAGLINE

While on a camping trip, three teenage brothers go from being the hunted to the hunters in an effort to snare and catch a dangerous thief.

SYNOPSIS

The summer holidays finally arrive, and the three teenage brothers head out into the wilderness for a camping trip together. Their days are spent fishing, swimming and relaxing by their small tent on the banks of the river.

But unbeknownst to the boys, they are being watched. When things start going missing from their camp, and other strange events begin to occur, the three brothers begin to worry, unsure and unaware of who or what is stalking them.

Eventually they manage to discover what is really happening, and together they set out on a path fraught with danger, action and drama in order to bring the culprit to justice.

 DIGITALLY REMASTERED BY:

Gravel Road Entertainment

Joe Bullet

Joe Bullet South African Films

Made in 1971, this action film directed by Louis de Wit and produced by Tonie vd Merwe was shot on 16mm in Johannesburg. Banned in South Africa by the government when it originally came out, it stars Ken Gampu, Abigail Kubeka, Jimmy Sabie and Joe Lopez.

TAGLINE

In the criminal underworld of soccer, one man will have to save the championship!

SYNOPSIS

When local soccer team The Eagles fall prey to a series of onslaughts from a mysterious gangster only a week before the championship final, the team turns to the one man that can help save their chances at victory – Joe Bullet (Ken Gampu).

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.

In the end he will have to infiltrate the mysterious gangster’s hide-out in a dangerous cat-and-mouse rescue mission to save not only The Eagles’ two kidnapped star players, but that of his beautiful love interest, Beauty (Abigail Kubeka).

The odds will be stacked against him, but he’s the man that fights crime, the man that no one can tie down! Joe Bullet!

Joe Bullet