I just watched the trailer for the upcoming and long-awaited movie Long Walk to Freedom. I am sure that it is going to be an emotional roller-coaster telling the story of the life of one of the world’s biggest heroes, but I am also sure that it is going to showcase some amazing South African scenery to the world. South Africa has a thriving movie industry, and personally I think that we are way too shy and quiet about it.
There are the important movies that tell history as it was, like the Bang-Bang Club and Cry Freedom. There are stories that perhaps we’d rather not draw attention to, but that are ever so important to tell, like Tsotsi. Not to mention Skin, that tells a story so unreal you have to pinch yourself to understand that it is based on true events.Then there are those that certainly aren’t for everyone, like the alien adventure District 9, and the downright funny, like Spud. The South African movie industry is certainly broad and successful.
Other local productions well worth watching include Jeppe on a Friday, a kaleidoscope of portraits from an inner-city Johannesburg neighbourhood that leaves the viewer with a much better understanding of life in the city; Fatherland, a documentary that explores Afrikaans nationalism in modern-day South Africa; and for a classic, try A Dry White Season based on the novel with the same name by Andre Brink.
But movies have the power not only to tell a story, but also to captivate the audience and make them want to see more of the country. Just look at what Lord of the Rings did for the New Zealand tourism industry.
Over and above the well-known South African productions mentioned above, there are several international blockbusters that are wholly or partly shot in our beautiful country that essentially are free marketing tools. Did you know that Cape Town appears as 57 different places (from Afganistan, to Bolivia ad Sierra Leone) in Lord of War with Nicola Cage?
Then there are of course Blood Diamond and Invictus. And, even though most of the movie is not set in South Africa, the first scenes in Searching for Sugarman must be the best way ever to showcase Cape Town’s beauty!
So many stories to tell, so many scenes to show!