Maseko’s re­ward af­ter nine years

CityPress - - News - CHARL BLIGNAUT charl.blignaut@city­press.co.za

“The nine years it has taken to make this film have been some of the dark­est times of my life. I have ex­pe­ri­enced de­pres­sion, self-doubt, fear,” di­rec­tor Zola Maseko said of the dif­fi­culty to raise fund­ing for a black South African film. His project needed just a few more than the reg­u­lar mil­lions to bring the whale Shar­isha to life through com­puter-gen­er­ated im­ages. The world pre­miere of his film, The Whale Caller, was at the Joburg Film Fes­ti­val last week­end.

Last night in Rose­bank it all seemed worth it. Maseko lifted the fes­ti­val’s award for Best African Film and a handy R150 000 prize money to go with it.

The Drum di­rec­tor’s film had the big­gest heart of the movies on show in the fes­ti­val’s first year, screen­ing 60 mostly African films at venues through­out the city. Based on the novel by Zakes Mda, The Whale Caller is a mag­i­cal film about a whale caller in Her­manus, played by Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, who lives for the an­nual re­turn of the south­ern right whales, es­pe­cially his favourite whale, Shar­isha. When he falls in love with a fierce and un­usual woman called Saluni (played by Am­rain Is­mailEs­sop), a love tri­an­gle takes hold of their lives. “Whale Caller took nine years be­cause Zola is stub­born ... not will­ing to take money from fun­ders who wanted him to cast bank­able Hol­ly­wood ac­tors,” said Mda at the pre­miere. Re­had De­sai’s first doc­u­men­tary since the In­ter­na­tional Emmy Award­win­ning Min­ers Shot Down (about the state, big busi­ness and the mas­sacre at Marikana) – called The Gi­ant is Fall­ing – won Best South African Film. The big prize of the night – Best Film and R150 000 – went to a de­serv­ing Licínio Azevedo for his film The Train of Salt and Sugar.

PHOTO: MUNTU VILAKAZI

WHALE OF A TIME Film maker and di­rec­tor Zola Maseko

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