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Two Showmax Original Horror Films Released


Two creepy South African horrors have crawled onto screen, both produced by Nagvlug Films, the company that brought us Wonderlus and Hotel. Both Showmax Originals, serving as the streaming service's first move into the horror genre, it's a welcome sign of things to come.

“We’ve had a great response to hit international horrors like Hereditary, IT and Pet Sematary on Showmax, so we’re excited to see how South African audiences respond when the frights are closer to home.” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Multichoice’s Connected Video.

RAGE

Rage follows a group of school-leavers who descend on a tiny coastal town for the rite of passage known as "Matric Rage". A celebration of their freedom, Roxy, Sihle, Kyle, Leon, Tamsyn and Neo party on the beach all night living it up. A trippy hallucination on the beach begins a spiral of terror as the best holiday of their lives turns into a nightmare as the teens become play things following a disturbing ritualistic birth.

Rage is directed by SAFTA nominee Jaco Bouwer, best known for Die Spreeus. The horror stars Nicole Fortuin (Flatland) opposite Carel Nel (Dwaalster) and David Viviers (Kanarie).

PARABLE

Parable follows a teenage girl, who is forced into gay conversion therapy. When a famous lay preacher accidentally conjures a demonic spirit while trying to ‘cure’ her, he tries to hide his mistake in a church house deep within a security complex. The gated community is home to a slacker, who starts getting dream visits from the missing girl.

Parable is a directorial debut for SAFTA-nominee Beer Adriaanse, best known for his performances in Kanarie and Wonderlus. The horror stars Jane de Wet, Michael Richard (Still Breathing), Carla Classen (Stroomop, Fiela Se Kind) and Thapelo Aphiri (Scandal).

 
Anant Singh and Videovision Make 10 Films Available for Free Viewing Online During National Lockdown


South African film producer Anant Singh and Videovision Entertainment have made ten films produced by the company available for free viewing online as of today. These hit films, which include: Sarafina!, Mr. Bones, Red Dust and Paljas, will be available during the lockdown period from Friday, 27 March through to Thursday, 16 April 2020.

“For the first time in the modern age, South Africa and the entire world faces a health threat of unprecedented proportions, with uncertainty and concern. While our President implemented measures to quell the rapid spread of the Covid-19 with the 21-day lockdown, we felt it important to offer some of our films to our nation for free viewing online. We have selected films that are firm favourites among South Africans,” said Anant Singh.

The first films offered on the platform are all South African favourites to entertain and inspire viewers. They can be accessed on the Videovision Entertainment portal on Vimeo here.

Sarafina!, based on the stage musical, is an inspirational film about the youth uprising of 16 June 1976, starring Leleti Khumalo, John Kani, Robert Whitehead, Miriam Makeba, Somizi Mhlongo and Whoopi Goldberg.

Mr. Bones, South Africa’s number one box office comedy hit, starring Leon Schuster and friends is sure to appeal to fans of local slapstick comedy.

Yesterday is the first South African film to be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category starring Leleti Khumalo and directed by Darrell  Roodt.

2010 – Once in a Lifetime focuses on the memorable 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the excitement and celebration that this global event brought to the African continent.

Red Dust is an intense courtroom drama against the backdrop of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starring Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor with Jamie Bartlett.

Celebrating Mandela One Hundred traces Madiba’s life from his roots in the Transkei to becoming one of the world's greatest and most iconic leaders.

Countdown to Freedom documents the ten days leading up to our democratic elections and culminates with Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as President. The film includes exclusive access to Nelson Mandela as he took the final steps on his walk from prisoner to president.

A Hero for All follows the activities of President Mandela from the run-up to South Africa’s first democratic elections and throughout his presidency.

Paljas is based on the classic Afrikaans book and directed by Katinka Heyns. The drama explores the life of a Karoo family whose lives are changed for the better when a they become acquainted with a clown from a travelling circus.

Ahmed Kathrada: A Man for All Seasons follows struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s extraordinary life journey as an activist, a Rivonia trialist, a Robben Island prisoner through to his post-prison activities and the founding of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

Singh and Videovision Entertainment have been actively involved in the Covid-19 campaign and crafted awareness videos in partnership with many stakeholders including the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Singh says, “I commend President Cyril Ramaphosa, his cabinet and the members of the National Command Council for the swift action taken and the implementation of programmes that will hopefully quell the impact of the Covid-19 virus on our people. It is encouraging that initiatives like the Solidarity Response Fund have garnered support and I am delighted to be a participant. I urge all South Africans to take the necessary precautions against the virus and continue to practise good hygiene. May all South Africans be safe during this lockdown period and beyond. God bless us all.”

 
Local Entertainment Industry Hit Hard by Pandemic Lockdown


In these tricky times, where film productions have ground to a halt, theatres have had to close their doors, it seems that the entertainment industry's taking a big knock. While we try to figure it out one day at a time as businesses adjust, national lockdown is forcing them to comply with drastic measures to curtail the spread of the virus by forcing people to stay at home only allowing for essential services. While this is necessary to stem the pandemic, preventing the virus from impeding business for months on end, it's obviously having a major impact on businesses that rely on ticket sales.

Independent cinemas like the Labia Theatre are asking patrons to pre-book tickets in advance for when it reopens. This will hopefully ensure a good cash flow, some damage control and ensure there are able to stay afloat. While exhibitors and supporting marketing and PR wings will be feeling the direct effects of a lockdown, cessation of new releases and zero ticket sales, this is not the only part of the entertainment industry that's taking a knock.

freelancer cast and crew

Consider all the actors and crew, essentially freelancers, who built their solid careers landing one job at a time. Not having any immediate work, foreseeable work or live shows makes it almost impossible to plan or account for future earnings. Already a competitive industry, restrained by inefficient regulations and an apparent lack of funding, these freelancers will be feeling the hardest effects of the lockdown.

While there's plenty of panic and fear in the air, there's some hope. Some have taken a page from celebrated actors like Anthony Hopkins who are turning the self-quarantine period into a publicity campaign. Posting short videos of him playing piano for his cat, walking among his artworks... he's generating some great publicity from people amused or moved by his stay at home antics. Some actors have taken to reading children's books as storytellers for kids. Then, there are others like director Tim Greene, who is actually leveraging the pandemic situation to create a movie. He's casting actors to join his lockdown movie project in which actors will shoot scenes on their phones and upload them for him to edit together. Local actor, photographer and poet, Gerard Rudolf, is taking to reading a poem every day as part of his 21 for 21 series for the lockdown.

Countries like Germany are creating funds to help keep their entertainment industry alive, realising its intrinsic value and scale of economy. Unfortunately, right now in South Africa as much as some efforts are being made to appeal to government organs, there's not much hope that anything will be done to remedy the situation. Having already had to fight for their rights when it comes to residuals, the notion of being a struggling actor is fast becoming a lifestyle choice rather than a career risk. Unable to garner the residuals that other actors in other countries are able to it's become a game of survival, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our cast and crew are talented and have what it takes to be successful but are thwarted by a lack of opportunities, unfair remuneration policies and the diminishing rate of international productions coming to our shores. The coronavirus outbreak, now declared a pandemic, has caused shock waves across the world, but these are being experienced head-on by our community freelancers who while already disadvantaged will now be feeling the brunt of financial hardship with a hazy and unclear future ahead.

Let's hope that this dire situation will serve as a shakeup for the entertainment industry. Hitting the reset button will hopefully enable the right stakeholders to be appealed to in order to make things right and encourage growth in the sector. Our film industry can be one of the best in the world, but will need the right leadership and preconditions in order to leverage our geographic and human resources in a way that is fair, sustainable and conducive to growth.

If you're an actor, producer, director, technical crew or freelance worker and you've lost income due to a cancellation of a production, you can claim compensation from Department of Arts and Culture: http://www.dac.gov.za/content/z-relief-plan-department-sports-arts-and-culture-dsac

Alternatively, if you're in a position to help, please consider providing some financial relief to local entertainment artists who depend on events and shows for their income. Here's a fund that has been set up to do just that: https://gogetfunding.com/the-south-african-entertainment-industry-relief-fund/

 
How Are Cinemas and Theatres Going to Survive the Covid-19 Pandemic?


The Coronavirus has created a very different world within the space of a few weeks, starting with an influx of infections in China, spreading across the globe and ratcheting up thousands of deaths in the process. Now officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) it seems that governments are stepping up their responses in order to contain the virus and its knock-on effects.

As part of a the shutdown, many countries have instigated a policy whereby gatherings are either not permitted or very limited. This has led to a number of events being cancelled in an effort to flatten the curve and prevent much longer term consequences. This worldwide response echoes the influenza outbreak of 1918, as efforts are made to curb the spread of Covid-19, encouraging people to stay at home and practice good hygiene. While there's been much speculation on the virus and the outbreak, generating plenty of misinformation and memes in the process, it's clear that this pandemic is occupying most people's minds at present.

Can Cinemas and Theatres Survive the Pandemic

Unfortunately, with the cancellation of events and new limits in terms of what events are permitted, it does mean that cinemas and theatres have had to scramble to figure out the next step. While many people have been ordered to work from home and schools have closed, this has meant that there's an opportunity for people to visit the mall and go to cinemas. This is counter-productive to government's restrictions and containment measures.

Cinemas have complied with government regulations by providing sanitation stations, cleaning cinemas between screenings, limiting screenings from midday to 6pm as well as reducing the cinema capacity to 50%. This move makes it possible for patrons to sit clear of each other in an effort to maintain social distancing. However, as much as business needs to continue... it seems irresponsible to promote the cinema-going experience right now. One wonders just how much, if any, financial assistance government will provide venues who rely on public gathering.

As critical as it is to surviving this difficult period, it seems to go against the tide when most medical agencies are trying to advocate people stay at home. While you may maintain a safe distance from your fellow audience members, there's still a risk that someone who has been infected will still spread the easily contracted virus. As businesses, they have to look after their own interests but also need to bear in mind the greater story at play. While these methods may seem like a good idea in the short term, they could prolong the after-effects of the virus making it more difficult to curtail within months rather than weeks.

Essentially driven by crowds, we do seem to be at a critical turning point where cinemas and theatres are struggling for numbers under the current economic conditions. Many cinematic releases scheduled for this period have been postponed, delayed or shelved indefinitely. Obviously if you don't have anyone to watch the film in a time when people are actively being dissuaded from actually attending a cinema, it's not the right time to reap box office rewards.

While all of these measures are being put in place with some film productions actually being ground to a halt, it does seem that some creative thinking needs to happen in order to find workable solutions. The National Arts Festival has already announced that it will be doing things differently by going virtual this year. Scheduled to happen in a few months there's going to be a lot of chopping and changing in order to make it feasible.

Festival goers will understand why these measures are being adopted by posting the festival predominantly online, but it will be an interesting experiment for the organisers to enable events to go ahead and still make the festival financially viable. Grahamstown was renamed Makhanda and unfortunately has been struggling to deal with water pipe issues, making the infrastructure vulnerable, especially under the duress of an influx of crowds.

Many of the film exhibitors will be waiting for some word from studios and distributors. At the moment, the current release schedule has dropped down from about four to five film releases per week to two or three. The natural thinking is to take productions online with a number of film releases such as Birds of Prey and Bloodshot getting video-on-demand platforms much sooner than ordinarily possible. Already under the strain of the streaming revolution, this outbreak couldn't have come at a worse time making it much more difficult for cinemas to keep their doors open, cover their mall rental and maintain some of the loyalty and carefully built up habits of their dwindling viewership.

Being forced to stay at home naturally would lead to more people simply switching to online streaming platforms like Netflix, Showmax or Amazon Prime with the added fear of possibly contracting the virus by venturing out. With so many exhibitors, events and productions being affected, one would hope that there will be some consolidation between the affected parties. Not only are films not being screened as per usual, but the suporting functions around these releases and advertising on these platforms will also take a knock. Perhaps some sort of central, yet localised streaming network for performance and local films would make a lot of sense.

While the idea of going to the movies certainly involves much more than simply pressing play, those who are loyal and willing to support this in-between stage could find themselves subscribing to a different form of streaming service. It's a lot to ask in such a short time period, especially when each hour that goes by is so critical but it's something that affects enough people that there should be a movement towards making it a reality.

 
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