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Spling to Adjudicate at AFDA Graduation Festival 2016


AFDA, South Africa’s only Oscar-winning film, television and performance school, is proud to host their annual graduation festival produced by Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban 3rd year undergraduate and 4th year postgraduate students. This year the festival will proudly showcase a record 91 productions from the respective AFDA campuses, including 60 live action short films, 11 pilot television shows, 11 live music performance shows and 9 theatre productions.

All the productions are assessed by industry professionals, AFDA learning staff members and most importantly the public. Spling has been invited to serve as a judge on the critics panel again this year, after adjudicating at AFDA's 2014 and 2015 graduation festivals. Here are his Top 5 films from the 2015 graduation festival and the speech he delivered at last year's graduation ceremony, where he presented the Critic's Award.

The graduation production constitutes 50% of the complete students assessment for the year. If you want to see the best up and coming future talent in the South African entertainment industry, the AFDA Graduation Festival 2016 is for you.

AFDA Graduation Festival 2016

Johannesburg Campus 17-26 November Performance School 17- 26 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, Red Roof Theatre. Television School 23-24 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, L1 Film School 25-26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Rosebank

Cape Town Campus 21-26 November
Performance School 21-25 Nov / Venue: 228 on Lower Main, AFDA Theatre Television School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre Film School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre

Durban Campus 18-26 November
Performance School 18 Nov / Venue: Durban Campus (Actors Sudio) 22 Nov / Venue: Wushwini Centre of Arts and Heritage Television School 25 – 26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway Film School 25-26 / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway

On 28 November 2016 the annual AFDA Online Festival goes live online giving you an opportunity to watch and rate the productions. In the meantime, follow the progress of all the AFDA 2016 productions at the AFDA Graduation Festival OnlineView previous AFDA Graduation Festival productions. Watch AFDA’s Top 21 graduate films since 1994.

 
Mumford & Sons - 'Dust and Thunder' Live in SA Concert Film


Multi-platinum selling band, Mumford & Sons have a massive and loyal international following, which was echoed at the last tour of South Africa, where they played for over 50,000 fans at their last concert in Pretoria. While this reviewer didn't get a chance to attend the actual concert, there's a good chance you'll feel like you did after experiencing this immersive film at Post City in Cape Town. The post-production company worked on the concert film, which they're proudly presenting at their in-house cinema this November.

Mumford and Sons - Dust and Thunder

I had the privilege of being one of the first people to see this concert film at a private screening at their studios on the Foreshore and it was sensational. The intimate 32-seater cinema is equipped for Atmos with a 4k projector and enshrines you in speakers. The sound test they played for us to demonstrate the 3D surround sound was incredible, giving you a real sense of the aural environment.

While Mumford and Sons isn't a personal favourite, their ability, energy and talent is undeniable. Most concert films become a bit repetitive, but this one was different, keeping you in the moment with sharp editing and multiple perspectives of every musician on stage in Ultra HD. The energy of the visuals and colour spectrum are reinforced by the sound, which takes you to the concert. The sound designers recorded multiple channels from within the audience and the results are quite amazing, giving you the shrill screams of fans and the inside edge, making you want to applaud when the crowd get involved. They collaborate with supporting artists: Baaba Maal, Mamadou Sarr, The Very Best and Beatenberg, welcoming them on stage after the encore.

The music is visceral as the pulsating rhythm and sound whip the crowd into a euphoric state, in many ways akin to being in a cathedral of sound. The eclectic visuals sustain you as the band keep things fresh by switching instruments, getting crowd interaction and bringing new session musicians on stage. This is a one-of-a-kind concert film that has set a new bar for sound and Post City have shown that they are open for business and ready to mix more big name live performances.

Post City Studios are screening this concert for a limited time at R170 a ticket, which you can get through Webtickets. It's obligatory for Mumford & Sons fans and a must for audio-visual enthusiasts, or anyone who enjoys rock concerts. Book tickets here.

 
The Galileo Open Air Cinema... it's alive, it's ALIVE


This year's Galileo Open Air Cinema season kicked off with a sold out Halloween screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street. While Freddy Krueger got the ball rolling, the Galileo's vibe is exemplified by About Time, the film they screened at Kirstenbosch, by renowned British director, Richard Curtis. About Time has its own outdoor screening scene and there's even lawn croquet, something the Galileo has started this year along with giant Jenga and boulle. About Time is heartwarming, life-affirming, rewatchable, all about love, has a special focus on family and is a real crowd pleaser... traits that underline what the Galileo's geared towards.

Their 2016/2017 film selection of popular crowd-pleasers are films that you want to watch again and the organisers have done their research, picking the best of the best from similar outdoor film events around the world. They've added the Castle of Good Hope as a new Friday venue, which should enthrall moviegoers and the screening line up is jam-packed old favourites as well as modern classics like Boyhood and Into the Wild. The gourmet food market has returned with delicious oven-baked pizza, fire-grilled nachos and stacked burgers. This year they've got a Seattle Coffee Co. mobile barista into the mix, which will appeal to coffee junkies.

Before the screening it's important to get a good spot before the hordes descend, unless you booked a VIP package, which gets you reserved seating. You may wait about an hour or more before the screening starts, during which time you can answer trivia questions on the big screen, play some lawn games or picnic with friends at one of their picturesque venues. It's a good idea to take a cushion, a warm jacket and recommended that you rent a back rest for maximum comfort.

 
Coming Soon: 'Shepherds and Butchers' (28 Oct)


Shepherds and Butchers directed by Oliver Schmitz and produced by Anant Singh, will open nationwide on the South African theatrical circuit on Friday, October 28th through Times Media Films.

Award-winning filmmaker, Oliver Schmitz (Life, Above All) directs the screen adaptation penned by Brian Cox. The gripping courtroom human drama is based upon the acclaimed South African novel of the same name by Chris Marnewick, a former advocate for the Durban bar, who based on the book on meticulously researched factual information amassed from his years as a defense attorney.

Academy Award® nominee, Steve Coogan (Philomena) heads up the cast in the role of defense advocate, Johan Webber, who is up against Prosecutor Kathleen Murray, played by Andrea Riseborough (Shadow Dancer), in an intense courtroom battle to save a 19-year-old warden (Garion Dowds) working on death row from his death sentence for murdering seven men.

Shepherds and Butchers 2016

Singh, known for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Sarafina!, commented that he is pleased that Times Media Films is giving the film such a wide release throughout the country. “We believe that Shepherds and Butchers is an important film for South African audiences as it has particular resonance of the damage done to an entire generation of South Africans, both Black and White, who, respectively, were forced to endure and perform horrific acts against their will in the draconian system of punishment of the apartheid regime. The film sets a platform for critical debate, on a global scale, on the issue of capital punishment.”

Follow @SplingMovies on Twitter or Like /SplingMovies on Facebook to keep up-to-speed in the build-up to this important film's release.

 
Review: VU - MTN's Premium Entertainment Network


It seems that South Africa has suddenly been inundated with movie and television network services. MTN's VU, DStv's Box Office, Netflix, ShowMax and Google Play have entered the market with an ever-widening bouquet of entertainment choices, broadcasting capabilities and viewing options. With piracy, torrents and illegal downloads, it seems there's a ready-and-waiting market of untapped South African consumers, who have forgone the traditional bricks-and-mortar video store and cineplex experience for home entertainment on-the-fly.

The big idea (and primary defence) is that most downloaders are willing to pay for quality entertainment, but it needs to be accessible, inexpensive and watchable according to their viewing habits. Naturally, many have followed in the Netflix wake, offering a complete entertainment solution for those happy to pay a subscription for unlimited access to world-class entertainment.

VU - Premium Entertainment Network

One such network, MTN's VU (formerly known as FrontRow), a premium entertainment network in South Africa, has taken this offering to the next level. VU currently offers a full-range of quality movies, TV series, documentaries and music content with free streaming for MTN subscribers. The cellphone network have opened the service across the board and made the idea of switching over to their network even more attractive by allowing subscribers to stream via LTE at no additional cost. The prohibitive costs of working an uncapped data package into the mix, make their flat R99 per month offer a major draw card for first-time users.

VU

Free Content Streaming at 99 Bucks a Month!

It sounds too good to be true, but it isn't. The free streaming service and competitive R99 per month positioning may not continue indefinitely, but right now it's enough for people to get onto MTN's network, even if just to take advantage of this deal. VU is still in its infancy as a brand, but the technology behind the service is up-to-scratch and reliable enough to make this home entertainment package popular and extremely viable for users with smart phones, tablets and laptops - you can register up to 5 devices to your account.

Portable Viewing

VU takes entertainment beyond the home to wherever you are. Logging into the VU app allows you to access content on the bus or while waiting in a queue. The app bookmarks where you left off with your latest episode or movie, allowing you to catch a few minutes whenever you feel the urge. Although it would be nice to be able to edit your play list by deleting half-watched episodes without having to finish them.

The pause during play doesn't really let you pause more than 5 seconds before forcing you to return to the playlist, but a few taps of the screen and you're watching again. The playback is seamless when you're receiving a strong LTE signal and still watchable when you're only getting one bar... although expect to see the buffering logo pop-up on your cellphone or experience reduced quality streaming on your laptop. It's bearable on-the-go, but you'll want to make sure you live in an area with a strong signal for the best results at home.

On-Demand Viewing

What's great is that VU offers a wide selection of TV series, films and new releases and keep up-to-date with series like Starz's Black Sails, which gets added a day after airing in the States. The MaxVU subscription enables you to access their current TV series and older movie selection, while the PremiereVU gives you the option of renting a newer film for R15 or a latest release for R27 using your airtime or credit card. VU even have an as-and-when weekend access option for R39 if you want to steamroll through a TV series or become one with your couch.

VU - Premium Entertainment Network

Entertainment Selection

VU's selection is not comprehensive, but there are enough films, popular TV shows, documentaries and music videos to keep you going, fill in the gaps or try something new and you get to watch them at your own pace. Browsing titles is quite straightforward as categories are subdivided, the details give you series breakdowns and synopses and you've got the option to search the collection too.

The film collection isn't obvious, giving you an array of films you probably haven't had access to in the past, including classics like: The Jerk, The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, Rear Window and Bad Santa to more contemporary popular titles like Smokin' Aces, Spider-Man, Serenity and the Scream Trilogy. The TV series collection doesn't have every season of every show, but includes a considerable selection of classic sitcoms like: The Office and Scrubs to more contemporary dramas like Black Sails, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, Luther, House and Breaking Bad.

Miracasting

One of the main drawbacks is that VU isn't compatible with Chromecast or similar miracasting devices yet. This won't bother you if primarily watch content on your portable deivces, but it will restrict you to watching on your devices if you're used to watching on your HD flat screen. It's probably only a matter of time, before they update their app to allow this, but it's worth noting.

The Bottom Line

While VU isn't perfect, it's an incredibly attractive entertainment solution for people who want entertainment at their fingertips. You can expect the odd playback issue relating to signal, buffering, or an intermittent time out - but it's generally stable enough to keep you glued to your screen. The Chromecast compatibility thing is an inconvenience, but with several other viewing options available, you can easily overlook this and get used to watching on another screen until this becomes a possibility. The monthly subscription pricing is very competitive, the entertainment selection is broad and varied, the portability factor will revolutionise the way you do TV and movies, while free streaming for MTN users is a massive competitive advantage! Subscribe here

 
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