South Africa's Fulu Mugovhani stars alongside Nigeria's OC Ukeje in Ayanda
South Africa's Fulu Mugovhani stars alongside Nigeria's OC Ukeje in Ayanda. The film has been praised abroad as 'a lively, engaging and ultimately celebratory female-centred story' that 'highlights the Afro-cultural hub that modern South Africa is fast becoming'.

Joburg's unique urban character, and its growing reputation as a film making destination, are once more being showcased in local cinemas by the city's latest movie product, Ayanda.

While Braamfontein and Maboneng are still getting big screen mileage from romantic comedy Tell Me Sweet Something, which opened in September, Ayanda is set in the vibrant Afropolitan community of Yeoville, on the north-eastern side of the inner city.

This, combined with the film's youthful cast and pulsing, street-style energy, is giving audiences a vivid, colourful take on urban South African youth culture, and has received positive reviews for its authentic local flavour, storytelling and performances.

Growing list of made in Jozi movies

City of Joburg Economic Development MMC Ruby Mathang says Ayanda and Tell Me Sweet Something are the latest in a growing list of local and international films that have been filmed, in whole or in part, in Johannesburg.

These include South Africa's official entry for the 2016 Academy Awards in the foreign language category, Thina Sobabili, as well as recent South African movies Necktie Youth and Cuckold and international productions Avengers: Age of Ultron, Invictus, and District 9.

Joburg cinema goers will also be able to spot their home town on the big screen in forthcoming movies such as sci-fi feature Taking Earth, contemporary comedy-drama Hatchet Hour, and Happiness Is…,  the film adaptation of Cynthia Nozizwe Jele's award-winning novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word - all of which have received production support from the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC).

"Johannesburg is a premier global, all-year-round business, filming and leisure destination for local, national and international audiences," MMC Mathang told the City of Joburg website this week. "It is a world-class African city offering world-class facilities and skills.

"As the City we have several comprehensive promotional platforms in place, including a database of international producers to ensure the scope of our offerings is as varied as possible."

Besides first-rate infrastructure and a huge variety of urban and peri-urban locations, Johannesburg also offers "an affordable destination with state-of-the-art production facilities, skilled and experienced film crews, a burgeoning labour force as well as key support logistics and services", the MMC said.

South African film fans currently 'spoilt for choice'

National Film and Video Foundation CEO Zama Mkosi last week encouraged filmgoers to take advantage of the strong local movie offering currently on circuit, which also includes Die Pro, While you Were Not Looking, and Schuks! Pay back the Money.

"In light of all the exciting local films that are screening at the cinemas nationwide, we once again encourage the public to show support for the industry," Mkosi said. "South Africans are currently spoilt for choice at the cinemas and should therefore not miss this opportunity of enjoying our local content."



Produced by Terry Pheto and directed by Sara Blecher, Ayanda tells the story of single-minded 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (Fulu Mugovhani), who has a talent for taking neglected pieces of furniture and "bringing them back to love".

Eight years after her father’s death, his prized auto repair garage is in deep debt and in danger of being sold, but Ayanda does everything in her power to keep his legacy alive.

The film also stars Nigerian actor OC Ukeje, winner of the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Award for Best Actor, backed up by a strong South African cast including Jafta Mamabolo, Nthati Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Sihle Xaba, Thomas Gumede and veteran actress Vanessa Cooke.

It won the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival, was chosen as the opening film of the 2015 Durban International Film Festival, and has been picked up for distribution in the US by director, screenwriter and film distributor Ava DuVernay.

It's also been scooped up by a number of prestigious international festivals. By the end of October, it will have screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival, and the Cambridge African Film Festival.

Ayanda was produced by Real Eyes Films and Terry Pheto's Leading Lady Productions, with the support of the National Film and Video Foundation, Africa Magic, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Gauteng Film Commission.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission