After garnering awards and critical acclaim at film festivals in South Africa and abroad, director Meg Rickards’ (1994: The Bloody Miracle, Land of Thirst) feature film Tess will open at local cinemas on February 24.
Produced by Paul Egan and Kim Williams of Boondogle Films, Tess is based on Tracey Farren’s award-winning novel Whiplash and is a searing portrait of a young street worker desperately trying to still the demons of her past.
Sassy twenty-year-old Tess sells her body on the streets of Cape Town. She survives by popping pain killers and through her wry humour. Though she tries to escape her past, it continues to torment her and she is forced to fight back, conquering her demons and searching for the truth.
“The fact that Tess is a sex worker is almost incidental,” says Rickards. “She’s a young woman undergoing a tumultuous journey: facing the truth of her childhood, coming to terms with it and moving forward with her inner dignity intact.”
Producers Paul Egan and Kim Williams have also revealed that the award-winning film has been picked up by The Little Film Company for international distribution.
The Little Film Company, a motion picture sales and marketing company founded by Robbie and Ellen Little, is no stranger to the South African film industry, the company previously distributed the 2005 Academy Award Best Foreign Picture winner Tsotsi.
“Tess is a very moving and provocative film and we are all incredibly excited to be bringing it to the world”, said Robbie Little.
While the film has been invited to a number of international film festivals and was a contender as the South African entry as Best Foreign Film for this year’s Oscars, having The Little Film Company acquiring the film means that it will be exposed to a huge international audience.
Paul and Kim said: ‘We are delighted to confirm the deal with the highly respected The Little Film Company. It is a massive boost for the film and it provides an opportunity for audiences beyond Africa to experience the movie.’
Tess stars Christia Visser (Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling, Hollywood in My Huis), Nollywood actress Nse Ikpe-Etim (Reloaded), Brendon Daniels (iNumber Number, Four Corners) and Dann Jacques Mouton (Noem My Skollie). Lee-Ann van Rooi, Quanita Adams, Amanda Lane, Warrick Grier, Oscar Peterson, Mark Elderkin and Greg Kriek round out the cast.
The film had its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2016 before going on to screen at the kykNET Silwerskermfees and at the BRICS International Film in New Delhi and the Brussels and Gothenburg International Film Festivals.
Tess has been hailed by critics and audiences alike and has already garnered a number of awards including: best South African feature film, best sditing and best actress for Christia Visser at DIFF and then best actress, best editing and best cinematography at kykNET Silwerskerm.
Tess was funded by KykNET, the National Film and Video Foundation, the DTI and Thundafund. Times Media Films distributes.
View the trailer here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMsk3wGkcaU
The feature film Tess features an original score and theme song composed by the two-time Grammy Award-winning composer and producer Christopher Tin and local composer Ebrahim Mallum.
In considering the film’s score, director Meg Rickards knew what she did not want, and that was a score that would tell audiences what to think.
“It was a true privilege to work with incredibly talented musicians, who were inspirational in their collaborative approach,” says Rickards. “Christopher composed an exquisite score for Tess. It’s closely aligned to the character’s emotional journey without ever being on-the-nose or obvious. Christopher works with emotion in a refreshingly subtle, non-prescriptive way.”
All the source music for the film was composed by Ebrahim Mallum, one of South Africa’s most talented composers and producers. “Mr Mallum brought a deeply authentic local layer to the music’s soundtrack; he’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of where South African contemporary music is at,” says Rickards.
The theme song, Tripping Electrics, composed by Tin and Mallum, is based on a passage from the book Whiplash by Tracey Farren on which the movie is based. Vocalist Akeeda Keet worked with the passage from the book, moulding it into lyrics for the song.
“Akeeda’s haunting voice is used intermittently through the film as an abstract element,” says Rickards. “The only time she sings lyrics is during the end credit track, Tripping Electrics. While we were recording, I sat in the corner, behind Akeeda, moved to tears by the raw power of her voice.”