Judge calls ‘cut’ on Brenda Fassie movie

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By LEONIE WAG­NER

● There are lights and cam­eras, but no ac­tion for the pro­posed movie about the late pop star Brenda Fassie.

The High Court in Pre­to­ria this week is­sued an or­der halt­ing all au­di­tions, pro­mo­tions, ad­ver­tise­ments and pro­duc­tion on the biopic, pend­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of a bat­tle over who owns the rights to the film.

In an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Times, Fassie’s only child, Bon­gani Fassie, said he was de­ter­mined to see his mother’s film made, and that the cast would be an­nounced to­mor­row.

But the court or­der, ob­tained by vet­eran mu­sic pro­ducer Sello “Chicco” Twala, states: “Re­spon­dents are in­ter­dicted and/or re­strained from con­duct­ing any cast­ing au­di­tions, pro­mo­tions, ad­ver­tise­ment and pro­duc­tion of the movie of the late Brenda Fassie di­rectly or in­di­rectly through any third party.” The or­der is pend­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of an ap­pli­ca­tion re­gard­ing the rights to the film.

“This is to con­fuse the pub­lic, to dis­tract them and de­mo­ti­vate them,” Fassie, 33, said this week. “I’m pre­pared to walk bare­foot in hell to see my mom’s movie. Any chal­lenge must come and I will take it on. If fail­ure is what is ex­pected of me, I’m de­ter­mined to prove every­body wrong. No one can take away that this is a story about my mom.”

Fassie has been in a court bat­tle with Twala over the rights to the film.

In Jan­u­ary UK pro­duc­tion com­pany Show­bizbee an­nounced it would work with the Brenda Fassie es­tate and Le­gaci Nova En­ter­tain­ment to pro­duce the movie Brenda. It said the movie was based on a story by Bon­gani Fassie, who would be the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer.

Fassie said the movie was about pre­serv­ing his mother’s legacy and restor­ing her im­age, and was also about his own im­age. His last mem­ory of his mother is her be­ing driven to hospi­tal and sit­ting in a wait­ing room watch­ing TV soaps.

“It’s a story that must be told, I have to clear mommy’s name and to clear every­body else’s name who was around her. There were good peo­ple in my mom’s life too. The ques­tion is, why did she die? No one knows.”

For the fa­ther of two, fail­ure is not an op­tion, es­pe­cially as “ev­ery­thing I’ve tried has failed”. He said the movie deal was the best thing that had hap­pened to him and that it was his “duty” as a son to make the film.

A few years ago, Fassie was said to be go­ing down the same drug-laden path as his mother. He was re­garded as a lost artist caught up in non-stop par­ty­ing with co­pi­ous amounts of drugs, al­co­hol and sex.

“Some of it was true. I took a heavy knock, my mom was my best friend, my mom was my ev­ery­thing.

“When she left I didn’t as­pire to be how peo­ple had painted her to be. But in a way I did fall off the track and there were sim­i­lar­i­ties. It was hard be­ing in that space.”

Hav­ing spent his life liv­ing in the shadow of an icon, Fassie said he never wanted to be a mu­si­cian. “I wanted to be a lawyer or a cop. I wanted to be in jus­tice.” But he said mu­sic chose him, and that he only con­sciously de­cided to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic af­ter his mother died.

Fassie gets tears in his eyes when he talks about how his mother died, and the al­le­ga­tions of her drug abuse.

“Th­ese are things that touch the heart be­cause I’m not speak­ing about Brenda Fassie the artist, I’m talk­ing about my mother, which I feel gives me the right to be upset.”

He said this made him de­ter­mined to re­lease the movie on Novem­ber 3, his mother’s birth­day.

Twala, who was Brenda Fassie’s man­ager, said this week he was equally de­ter­mined and slammed Fassie’s ef­forts to con­tinue with the film, de­spite the court in­ter­dict.

“We were busy with a script when this oc­curred. We spent over R1.8-mil­lion work­ing with writ­ers, do­ing re­search and in­ter­view­ing peo­ple. So it’s not like we were just sit­ting; we’ve been work­ing.

“I don’t want the money, I care about my rep­u­ta­tion, I don’t want peo­ple to use my mu­sic,” Twala said.

“I am de­ter­mined, just like him, but I also want to work with him. I don’t want to ex­clude him. We are part­ners in this and I’m will­ing to work with him.”

No one can take away that this is a story about my mom Fassie jnr Son of the pop star

Pic­ture: Moeletsi Mabe

Bon­gani Fassie with a bronze im­age of his late mother, Brenda Fassie.

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