It’s been in a banner year for South African filmmaking. “Hear Me Move”, a film that marries traditional South African moves with Western dance, has been screened at festivals around the world, and was a box office hit in South Africa. “The Endless River” received massive critical acclaim, including a breakout role for newcomer Crystal Donna Roberts. Tebogo Malope’s “For Love and Broken Bones”, where a ruthless debt collector falls in love with the wedding planner he’s supposed to collect from, made huge waves on the film festival circuit.
Now comes “Ayanda and the Mechanic”, the coming of age story of an entrepreneurial young woman desperately hanging on to her late father’s memory while getting her hands dirty at the mechanic’s shop she inherited, all the while fighting gender bias and stereotypes. Ava Duvernay’s ARRAY picked up the U.S. theatrical rights to the film and it will have its world premiere in U.S. theaters tonight (11/13/15).
“Ayanda” may seem to have come out of nowhere – a small film shot in South Africa that somehow managed to snag a deal with ARRAY. But in reality, director Sara Blecher was also the force behind “Otelo Burning”, an S&A feature film highlight in 2012 that garnered nearly 20 awards worldwide. “Otelo” is the gripping tale of children in a township discovering surfing.
Originally titled “Ayanda and the Mechanic”, “Ayanda” looks to follow in “Otelo’s” footsteps.
Producer Busi Sizani attributes “Ayanda’s” success to the authenticity of its storytelling. It’s Busi’s first project (YES. FIRST), and with an ARRAY release under her belt, she looks forward to shooting her next feature film.
Busi attended the American Film Market (AFM) as part of South African Indies, an initiative sponsored by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). She was hoping to sell “Ayanda” at the market. ARRAY stepped in well before that. Nevertheless, Busi attended AFM in hopes of selling the film to other markets, outside the USA. Here she gives some insights on the process.
The AFM is a global marketplace industry event held each year at the beginning of November in Santa Monica, California, where film industry personnel collect to network, sell, finance and acquire films. Participants come from more than 70 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, producers, writers, etc.
Martine Jean is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. Twitter: @melangemedia