Following the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of the short documentary film that followed notable South African musician/activist Hugh Masekela’s attempt to reconnect with his son Selema Mabena Masekela (better known as a TV personality and ESPN X Games host), comes news that Paul Haggis (via his Hwy 61 production company), in a collab with Olympus Pictures are developing a scripted feature film based on pretty much that same story; the longer version goes… exiled from his family and native South Africa for over 30 years, thanks to Apartheid, father Masekela would find musical success in the USA, where he would also father a son, Selema.
Hugh would eventually make the choice to return to South Africa (leaving his son behind in the USA), in an effort to reconnect to his homeland, as well as raise awareness about what was happening there at the time. Naturally, the son would have to face issues of abandonment, and identity, and all else that comes along with that.
The short film, directed be Jason Bergh, documented their attempts to reconnect with each other.
For the just-announced Haggis/Olympus Pictures feature film, South African filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil has been hired to write and direct. This will be his 3rd feature film in 2 years. Of his last 2 films, the first – 2011’s Retribution, a South African production – doesn’t appear to be available widely outside of SA; However Vehicle 19, the second, likely will be, as it stars Paul Walker.
It’s not yet entirely clear just how much of the lives of Masekela and son will be included in the film – as in whether it’ll cover events dating back to the father’s exile, the son’s birth, their years apart as father became that much more prominent, and son grew to be his own man, and emerge from his father’s shadow, etc.
And also no word yet on casting. Who could play Hugh Masekela on film? The son? I expect the starring cast will include a mix of American and South African actors.