Nomzamo Mbatha and Maps Maponyane in 'Tell Me Sweet Something'
Nomzamo Mbatha and Maps Maponyane as the unlikely couple in Tell Me Sweet Something.

Local box office success for Akin Omotoso's Romcom Tell Me Sweet Something bodes well for Ayanda, another made-in Jozi movie, which opens in cinemas on 2 October.

Tell Me Sweet Something, a love story with Joburg at its heart, came in at number five in its opening week at the South African box office earlier this month, putting up a strong showing against major international studio films such as The Southpaw and Fantastic Four.

Filmed on location in Maboneng and Braamfontein, Tell Me Sweet Something set out to prove that black stories could fall under the "feel-good" bracket and be commercially successful at the same time - and figures released by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) show that the film has gone some way towards achieving this.

According to the NFVF, the movie raked in R1.6-million in its first two weeks after being released on 45 screens.

The fact that it added only R233 785 in its third week could be attributed to the reduction in the number of screens to 28, the NFVF said in a statement this week, adding: "It also indicates that if the number of screens (prints) in high-performing sites are reduced, then the numbers will also decrease."

NFVF chief executive Zama Mkosi said that while box office returns tended to reflect lack of support for local films, the success of Tell Me Sweet Something could herald the start of a change.

"We hope that South Africans will keep up the momentum," Mkosi said. "As the country prepares for the release of award-winning actor/producer Terry Pheto's film Ayanda, the NFVF would like to encourage South African film consumers to continue demonstrating their support for local films."

Modern African tale set in Afropolitan Jozi suburb

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 United States shortly after, in mid-November.

This comes after the movie was picked up for US distribution by director, screenwriter and film distributor Ava DuVernay. It has also been selected for screening at the prestigious British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival, which gets under way on 7 October.



Co-produced by Pheto and directed by Sara Blecher, 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.

With its youthful cast and pulsing, street-style energy, Ayanda gives audiences a vivid, colourful take on urban South African youth culture, while exploring 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 some of the things they love in order to move forward.

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.

Proudly South African lesbian movie

Also opening at Ster Kinekor's Cinema Nouveau circuit and Maponya Mall on Friday, 2 October is While You Weren't Looking, the first film produced by Out in Africa, the organisers of the South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for the past 21 years.



The movie follows affluent mixed-race lesbian couple Dez (Sandi Schultz of Binnelanders) and Terri (Camilla Waldman of Tempy Pusha) as they struggle to balance their own desires and ambitions while reining in the rebellious instincts of their teenage daughter, Asanda (Petronella Tshuma of Of Good Report).

The debut feature of Catherine Stewart (creator of Mzanzi's Trending The Road, Isibaya, The Lab, Home Affairs, Tsha Tsha and Jacob's Cross), While You Weren't Looking was filmed in and around Cape Town and features a powerful soundtrack including the likes of Toya Delazy, Zaki Ibrahim, Spoek Mathambo and Umlilo.

The film won the Pink Apple Audience Award at the 2015 Pink Apple gay and lesbian film festival in Zurich, while Catherine Stewart scooped a Jury Award for the movie at the 2015 QFilm Festival in Long Beach, California.

It will screen at Cinema Nouveau in Durban Gateway, Pretoria Brooklyn, Jozi Rosebank, Cape Town V&A and at Ster Kinekor Maponya Mall.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission