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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


Uthemba South African Cinema
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

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

Thunder Valley

Thunder Valley South African Cinema
Director Tony Cunningham Cast Mandla Ngcoya
Producer Coastal Films Debra Ngcoya
Writer N/A Kululu Phewa
DOP N/A Max Mkhwanazi
Editor N/A Roy Dlamini
Sound Wally Booysen John Madlada
Y.O.P 1980’s Emmanuel Shangase
Running Time 69 min
Language isiZulu
Genre Action Drama

John, Sipho and Thandi are once more spending the summer holidays together at Uncle Joshua’s cottage. But despite their best efforts to stay out of mischief this year, the three manage to encounter a group of crooks hiding out in a supposed abandoned shack on the river.

To their great surprise, Benson has escaped from prison yet again. But this time around, the convict teams up with the youths to save the day and defeat the crooks holding a large cache of stolen weapons.

Thunder Valley South African Cinema

Thunder Valley South African Cinema

Run For Your Life

Run For Your Life South African Cinema
Director Run For Your Life South African Cinema Cast Emanuel Shangase
Producer Pedro Dippenaar Eddie de Croes
Writer Tommy Rothig Vusi Gudazi
DOP Ben Du Plessis Pepsi Mabizela
Editor Ben Du Plessis Doris Smith
Sound Steve Hand
Y.O.P 1980’s
Running Time 62 min
Language English / isiZulu
Genre Thriller

While out on a cross-country run in unfamiliar territory, two friends  stumble upon an illegal drug operation in the woods. Soon taken hostage by the notorious drug-lord, they face the threat of becoming drug slaves themselves. Forced to work the plantation for the man known as “Cobra”, the two friends will have to rely on one another and use their wits if they wish to defeat the armed guards holding them captive.

Run For Your Life South African Cinema

Run For Your Life South African Cinema


Revenge South African Cinema

Director Coenie Dippenaar Cast Alex Ngubane
Producer Coenie Dippenaar Roy Dlamini
Writer N/A Fikile Majola
DOP Tonie van der Merwe Vusi Gudazi
Editor Robert Thorpe Emmanuel Shangasi
Sound Foxy Hand Peter Bengu
Y.O.P approx. 1986 Fikile Majozi
Running Time 55 min Temba Shamba
Language isiZulu Abraham Foot
Genre Western

In the old African Wild West, a peace-loving family man moves to a vacant farm in search of a new life. His hopes are shattered when his son is badly beaten and his wife is murdered by a gang of ruthless thugs.

He is left bloody in the dirt until fate finally intervenes. Rescued and nursed back to health by a good samaritan living alone in the hills, something is amiss. The hermit is soon revealed to be a reformed gangster – a deadly gunslinger who eventually trains the man and sets him on a path of preparation to exact his revenge upon his wife’s murderers.

Revenge South African Cinema

Revenge South African Cinema

Joe Bullet at Carthage International Film Festival!

Carthage Film Festival Tunisia

Joe Bullet is having it’s North African premier at the Carthage International Film Festival this week.

Screenings are:

2 Dec 3:30pm at “Rio Cinema”

5 Dec 8:30pm at “Mondial Cinema”

In other news, our Trompie DVD is available at selected Musica stores and from our website www.gravelroadafrica.com. For only R99.99, own your own personal copy of this South African film from 1975.

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Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Joe Bullet screens in Tunisia #Retroafrika

Trompie DVD

Gone Crazy

Gone Crazy South African Cinema

Director Tony Cunningham Cast Emmanuel Shangase
Producer Mitch Dyter Roy Dlamini
Writer Lorraine Philbrick Pepsi Mabizela
DOP Tony Cunningham Mandla Ngconya
Editor Craig van der Westhuizen Hector Mathanda
Sound Simon Bleakley Vincent Vilakazi
Y.O.P 1980’s
Running Time 74 min
Language isiZulu
Genre Crime / Suspense

When a psychopath seeking revenge on the Mayor of a small town steals a mega bomb from a local research facility, two police Inspectors will have to team up together. Both working different angles of the same case, they have to rescue a Professor kidnapped by the madman, and also stop his evil plan of blowing up a nearby dam in order to flood the town where everyone lives.

Gone Crazy South African Cinema

Gone Crazy-10

Interview with Tonie van der Merwe

Trompie Framegrab

We recently did a little interview with Tonie van der Merwe – the creator of “Trompie”. Take a look at what he said.

  • When was Trompie produced?

I’d say around 1973-1974 if I’m not mistaken.

  • What where the challenges?

There were a number challenges the main one being directing the baboon and the dogs. We used a trained baboon that we got from a friend in Krugersdorp. We were not aware how difficult it would be to try and get that thing in the water. So yes, the biggest challenge was controlling the animals.

  • How well did it do?

Well Trompie did not do as well as we would have liked but we did take it on a national tour, visiting different communities and schools. So I would say it did okay.

  • The cast?

Well for the cast we put up an article for an open casting in the Sunday News and called out to as many people as we could. People wrote in and that is how we identified and found the actors.

  • How long did it take to produce?

Well it took between 6 – 8 weeks to shoot.

  • Why did it disappear?

After the national tour I moved on to other shoots and never really gave Trompie any mind until Benjamin Cowley came along.

  • What does it mean to you that is out on Dvd this week?

Well I hope it does well because I need the money from my Rhino movie that I plan to shoot next year.

  • Any Trompie sequels?

Well Benjamin had mentioned something like that but that all depends on him. If the opportunity arises however I would be very glad because I love working with children.

Andre Laubscher - the original "Trompie"!

Andre Laubscher – the original “Trompie”!

Tonie van der Merwe - Director of "Trompie"

Tonie van der Merwe – Director of “Trompie”