Fulu Mugovhani plays Ayanda in the film of the same name.
THE highly anticipated South African film, directed by Sara Blecher and produced by Real Eyes in association with Leading Lady Productions, will open the 36th Durban International Film Festival (Diff), which takes place from July 16 to July 26.
Set in the vibrant Afropolitan community of Johannesburg’s Yeoville, Ayanda is a coming-of-age story of a 21-year-old Afro-hipster who embarks on a journey of self discovery when she has to fight to save her late father’s legacy, a motor repair shop, when it is threatened with closure.
She’s thrown into a world of greasy overalls, gender stereotypes and abandoned vintage cars, once loved and now in need of a young woman’s reinventive touch to bring them back to life.
“Ayanda is a story about women, made by women,” says director Blecher. “The film is set in a vibrant and diverse Johannesburg and gives audiences a colourful and vivid view of South Africa right now. With a youthful cast, it has energy and street style.
“At its heart, however, the film looks at what it’s like for a young girl to grow up without a father, and how she and others around her have to learn how to let go of the things and people they love to move forward.”
The film stars Fulu Mugovhani (of Scandal fame) in the title role, Nigerian actor O.C. Ukeje and South Africans Ntathi Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Jafta Mamabola, Thomas Gumede, Sihle Xaba and Vanessa Cooke.
“We are pleased that this feel-good film will open this year’s festival,” said Pedro Pimenta, director of the Diff.
“The opening film of this, the most prestigious international film event in SA, needs to reflect a clear priority established by the festival to reach and develop local audiences.
“The recently published National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) report on audiences in this country is very informative and revealing in that while the industry has been successfully structured and supported from all quarters to allow a regular flow of SA content, much still needs to be done for this content to reach local audiences. By once again opening the Diff with a strong SA film, we endorse this objective.”
This is the second opening night film at Diff for Blecher. Her film Otelo Burning, a gripping story about township kids who discover surfing, opened the 2011 Diff, won numerous international awards and was screened at festivals all around the world.
“We are very proud of Ayanda and are thrilled to have it selected as the opening film at this year’s festival. The film had a very successful screening in Cannes last month and we look forward to screening it to festival goers in Durban,” said Blecher.
Co-producer of the film Terry Pheto added: “Ayanda celebrates the diversity of our country and revels in the fact that we are a multicultural, colourful and exciting melting pot of Africa. With this film we have tried to capture the Afropolitan nature of our country and the energy of its people.”
Ayanda had its world premiere in Los Angeles on June 13, where it was screened in competition at the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival.
The film, which was originally titled Andani and the Mechanic, was a project in the 2013 Durban FilmMart, the co-production and finance forum of the Diff, and the Durban Film Office. It is one of five titles that have been part of the DFM process over the years that will be screened this year at Diff. The festival includes more than 200 theatrical screenings and a full seminar and workshop programme, as well as the Wavescapes Film Festival. Other attractions include the eighth Talents Durban (presented in co-operation with the Berlinale Talents) and the sixth Durban FilmMart co-production market (presented in partnership with the Durban Film Office).