In the 70s and 80s South African film makers made a whole series of movies for the black African film market. Most of these had very limited screenings at the time and some were never publicly released. Some were banned immediately after being released. To date about 120 of these historic movies have been found and painstakingly and lovingly restored by Gravel Road Entertainment. The project that is restoring these movies is known as “Retro Afrika”.
SABC1 Mzansi Fo Sho will air six of these movies in a Freedom Month initiative dubbed the “Mayibuye Film Festival”. Two movies, Ambushed and Ezintandaneni (The Social Worker) will be shown on Sunday 13 April 2014 at 20:30 and at 21:50 respectively. Two movies will follow in the same time slots on Sunday 20 (Joe Bullet and Bona Mzansi) and Sunday 27 April 2014 (Treasure Hunters and Isiboshwa). Five of these movies were made using isiZulu as the movie language. They will be sub-titled into English. Joe Bullet, designed to be South Africa’s answer to James Bond, was made in English, banned after its second screening and never released again despite it having been unbanned.
SABC1 sees itself “as Mzansi’s Official storyteller” and they are delighted to be able to broadcast “these historic films which tells real and rooted Mzansi stories”.
At the time most of the movies were made in KwaZulu Natal, often using private game reserves as a venue. These were venues which were user friendly to the mixed race crew and casts of movies and also able to provide accommodation for everyone. These movies were of several genres including comedies and westerns. Benjamin Cowley, CEO of Gravel Road Entertainment, points out that this Mayibuye Film Festival is a way of honouring South Africa’s early film makers.
These interesting movie memorabilia screenings should be worth switching channels for. Set a memo on your phones to remind you to tune in to SABC at 20:30 on Sunday evenings.