Ayanda bought by major US distributor
Ayanda had its world premiere in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won a special jury prize and was hailed as 'a fresh and original voice in world fiction cinema'.

Ayanda, the latest feature from award-winning director Sara Blecher, is on something of a roll. Hot on the heels of the movie's selection for the 2015 British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival, comes news that it has been picked up for distribution in the US by director, screenwriter and film distributor Ava DuVernay.

DuVernay, who wrote and directed the acclaimed Martin Luther King biopic Selma, is the first female African-American director to have an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture behind her name.

Array Distribution, headed by DuVernay, announced on Tuesday, 8 September that they would be releasing Ayanda in the United States this fall (autumn, which in the northern hemisphere runs from 23 September to 21 December).

'Committed to getting more black stories on the big screen'

"Ava DuVernay has long been a promoter and distributor of black independent films and women filmmakers," actress and producer Terry Pheto, who co-produced Ayanda, said in a statement following the announcement.

"DuVernay herself recognises this, and is proving to be a force to help bring about needed change. She is not only a savvy film marketer and acclaimed director, but also a black woman entrepreneur who is deeply committed to increasing the representation of black people on the big screen."

A fresh, modern African tale set in Johannesburg's vibrant Afropolitan community of Yeoville, Ayanda opens in local cinemas nationwide on 2 October, and is set for release in the US shortly after, in mid-November.

The film 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.

'Couldn't have found a better-matched US distributor'

Director Blecher said the film could not have found a better-matched distributor in the US.

"Not only is Ayanda a story about women, made by women, but it also highlights female entrepreneurship and ingenuity, both talents which can mean the difference between success and hardship in a city like Johannesburg.

"To have the film bought for distribution by an African American woman who has made her mark in Hollywood is an incredibly proud moment for all of us involved in the making of Ayanda."



The film had its world premiere in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won a special jury prize and was hailed as "a fresh and original voice in world fiction cinema".

With its youthful cast and pulsing, street-style energy, Ayanda gives audiences a vivid, colourful of urban South African youth culture.

At its heart, however, the film is an exploration of what it's like for a young girl to grow up without a father, and how she and others around her have to learn to let go of the things and people they love in order to move forward.

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 and the Department of Trade and Industry. It will be distributed in South Africa by Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution.

Source: staff reporter

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