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Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom South African Crime Drama ‘Zulu’ Will Close Cannes 2013

Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom South African Crime Drama 'Zulu' Will Close Cannes 2013

I certainly didn’t see this one coming! It didn’t make my Cannes 2013 predictions list, so it’s a surprise. And the fact that it’s also going to be the closing night film is kind of a big deal.

The 66th Festival de Cannes just announced that it will close on May 26 with a screening of the thriller Zulu.

A film that we’ve been tracking for about a year now, since it was first announced, stars Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom in a Cape Town, South Africa-set crime drama, which is based on French author Caryl Férey’s award winning crime novel of the same name.

The film is directed by French helmer Jérôme Salle – his first film in English.

Recapping… Set against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa, Whitaker (in a role that was initially assigned to Djimon Hounsou) and Bloom play two South African police officers on opposing sides of the apartheid divide, who work together to fight crime.

Here’s the production company’s description of the filmed version of the novel:

As a child, Ali Neuman narrowly escaped being murdered by Inkhata, a militant political party at war with Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. Only he and his mother survived the carnage of those years. But as with many survivors, the psychological scars remain. Today, Ali is chief of the homicide branch of the South African police in Cape Town. One of his staff is Brian Epkeen, a free-wheeling white officer whose family was originally involved in the establishment of apartheid but who works well with Neuman. Together they have to deal with crime that inevitably exists in sprawling areas of un -and under- employed people, crime exacerbated by gangs, both local and from other parts of Africa. Their job gets even more difficult when the corpses of two young women are found. A new evil has been introduced in the city and a new drug has been introduced to its residents, including both murder victims. At the chaotic crossroads where brutality and modernization collide, the echoes of apartheid still resound in the shadows of a society struggling toward reconciliation.

When this was first announced in February 2012, Djimon was to play Ali Neuman, and Bloom as Brian Epkeen. Now Whitaker is playing Ali Neuman.

Director Salle directed from his own script adaptation of a novel that has been reviewed fairly well. Last year, Tamara Brown wrote a Book-To-Film report on this project for S&A, which you’re encouraged to read HERE.

The film is a French/English/South African co-production by Pathé, M6 Films, and Lobster Film.

Award-winning French film composer Alexandre Desplat is scoring the film. He’s has worked on a variety of Hollywood films including independent and commercial successes like The QueenThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonFantastic Mr. FoxMoorise KingdomZero Dark ThirtyArgoThe King’s Speech, and many others.

I’m looking forward to seeing some footage from this. Promo footage was screened for distributors at the Berlinale in February, which I hope will eventually make its way to the web.

The 66th Festival de Cannes opens on Wednesday May 15 with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and with Steven Spielberg as President of the Competition Jury. 

The full list of films for Selection will be announced on Thursday April 18 at the traditional press conference and published online at Once that happens next week, we’ll have it all for you, including Diaspora highlights.

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