Durban film-makers’ project selected for Sørfond Pitching Forum in Oslo, Norway
Hhola Hhola, a film which was a feature project at the inaugural Durban FilmMart (DFM) in 2010, has been selected for the prestigious Sørfond Pitching Forum in Oslo, Norway this year.
Produced by Julie Frederikse and directed by Madoda Ncayiyana of Vuleka Productions, based in KwaMashu in Durban, this is one of only 8 projects selected out of 130 applications from all over the world.
The Sørfond Pitching Forum, hosted by the Sørfond Norwegian South Film Fund, which has as its mission to fund films from developing countries, is held from 14 October during the Films from the South Festival in Oslo.
The aim of the Sørfond Pitching Forum is to give international producers the opportunity to present their projects to potential Norwegian co-producers, with the aim to enter into a co-production agreement and apply for support from Sørfond in March 2016.
Directed by Ncayiyana and produced by Julie Frederikse, Hhola Hhola is a story about dreams, ambitions and standing for what you believe in. “The new film is a relevant and poignant story of a young boy who dreams of being a celebrity and gets mixed up with a conman in an effort to free his mother from jail.” explains Frederikse. “What is also eye-catching about the film is the setting that is not often seen in African films. It is not poor and dusty Africa, with children holding a begging bowl, at least figuratively. Hhola Hhola is about tech-savvy urban Durban people, especially youth, who don’t have computers but run their social and economic lives on their cellphones. It is also about the notion of celebrity that young people are so taken with all over the world; the main character’s journey is to get past superficial ideas of winning fame and fortune so as to believe in himself and express what is really inside him. The film also delves into contemporary culture and identity, depicting the relevance and importance of it these factors,” she says.
“This is an significant opportunity for the film, and for Madoda to make his second feature film, to follow up Izulu Lami,” says Frederikse, “Approximately 1.6 million Euro will be granted for production support from 2015 to 2018 through an international cooperation between the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, with the Norwegian Film Institute and the Films from the South Foundation jointly in charge of the administration of the fund. Sørfond grants up to 130,000 Euro per film.”
The feature was first presented at the Durban FilmMart five years ago, when it was in its early development, then entitled Mobile Muti. Since then the film has received development funding from the National Film and Video Foundation in South Africa, the Durban Film Office and the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission. Additional support for a top international script doctor came jointly from Produire au Sud of Nantes, France and the Durban Film Office and International Relations Office of the eThekwini Municipality. As co-writers of the script, Ncayiyana and Frederikse worked with Argentinian-French-English script doctor Miguel Machalski, whose recent credits include acting as script consultant as part of Binger Filmlab on La Tierra y la Sombra by Colombian director Cesar Augusto Acevedo’s debut feature, which won the Camera D’Or and two other awards at Cannes 2015.
Ncayiyana’s award-winning debut feature film Izulu lami was also co-produced by Vuleka Productions and opened the 30th annual Durban International Film Festival in 2009. A co-founder of Vuleka, he was awarded the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission’s Simon “Mabhunu” Sabelo Award for Directing in 2014 and the eThekwini Mayor’s Achievement Award for his work in South African and international film, TV and theatre, and his contribution to Durban’s cultural scene.
Julie Frederikse has experience in producing feature film, short film and television programming, and is also director of Vuleka Productions, co-founded in 1993. She has developed and co-written Ncayiyana’s second feature film, Hhola Hhola, and will produce it together with top African film producer Anant Singh’s Videovision Entertainment (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom).
Says Sanjeev Singh, Videovision Entertainment’s director of Acquisition and Distribution, “We have been tracking the film through its evolution from Mobile Muti to Hhola Hhola in its present form. Madoda brings a gritty sensitivity to the project and together with Julie producing, they will create a unique and impactful film.”
“The eThekwini Municipality has supported the development of this project since its early inception because as a City, we understand that it is difficult to make your first major feature but even more difficult to make your second feature film.” says Deputy Mayor Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala “Madoda Ncayiyana is one of the City’s great talents and it is of critical importance that we support such talents to help grow our local industry. The opportunity now offered to Vuleka Productions is also testament to the success of the City funded Durban FilmMart and the impact it can have on our local filmmakers.”
‘We are really thrilled that this film is gaining traction in development,” says Toni Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office which jointly hosts the Durban FilmMart with the Durban International Film Festival. “Film projects take time to develop, and go through many interventions and networking in order to come to fruition, and pitching forums such as these, create opportunities for the film to finally get into production. The Durban Film Office has believed in Hhola Hhola from its early inception and we wish Vuleka all the best as they travel to Norway to pitch this really wonderful film to the forum.”