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Adaptation of Award-Winning South African Novel ‘Happiness Is a Four Letter Word’ in Production

Adaptation of Award-Winning South African Novel 'Happiness Is a Four Letter Word' in Production

A feature film adaptation of South African author Cynthia Jele’s award winning novel “Happiness is a Four-Letter Word” is currently in production (shooting began July 13th in and around Johannesburg), directed by Thabang Moleya, from a script penned by Busisiwe Ntilintili who adapted the novel.

In brief, the film tells the story of three friends trying to find happiness while maintaining images of success and acceptability – perfectionist lawyer Nandi, glamorous housewife Zaza, and trendy art gallery owner Princess, who seem to be living the new South African dream: money, success, and loving partners. The three will have to find out what truly makes each of them truly happy, and then fight to get it in their unique ways.

The novel was awarded the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book, and the 2011 M-Net Literary Award.

Producer Bongiwe Selane says, “I’m excited to be producing my first feature film with two formidable producers, whom I consider doyens in the industry. I was a fan of ‘Happiness is a Four-Letter Word’ when it was first published and immediately knew that it is the kind of story that lends itself to screen adaptation.” 

Junaid Ahmed adds, “It’s important for us to grow black excellence in the film industry. The fact that ‘Happiness’ is a story about ambitious black women is an added and much-welcomed layer.”

Author Jele also adds, “I’m thrilled about the film. The novel received tremendous support and still gets attention. I’m also excited about the developing trend of local books being turned into films and television dramas. The content and depth of South African writers is relevant and of a high calibre. I wish the cast and production team all the best, and I can’t wait to see the final product.”

The cast includes Mmabatho Montsho as Nandi, Khanyi Mbau as Zaza, and Renate Stuurman as Princess. 

The movie is being partly funded and produced by the South African National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), in collaboration with Junaid Ahmed Productions, joining a slate of films that aim to “develop key areas of black talent” in the South African film industry. Previous collabs include the 2014 release of the action-romance “Hard to Get,” which opened the Durban International Film Festival last year, and went onto enjoy critical acclaim.

Look for the completed film in 2016.

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