Bioscopes are no more. Most small towns and townships have lost the venues and audiences sought out by independent film makers.
But this has not deterred actor, TV presenter and film producer Thapelo Mokoena, who has teamed up with his peers to rekindle the township spirit of going to the movies. by Phuti Mathobela
He is a co-founder of the Kasi Movie Nights mobile cinema concept.
The logistics of bringing a movie to townships is complex as it comes with many challenges, ranging from a lack of electricity and chairs to having to book community halls or soccer fields to host audiences.
A minimum fee is charged.
"It is about a cinema lifestyle, which is why we win awards doing this," said Mokoena. "We are determined to bring new South African and African films to new audiences.
"The Bioscope at Maboneng Precinct, in Johannesburg's inner city, has played a fundamental role in growing new markets for new films, as well as in exposing new talent."
The advantages of reviving movies in townships
Mokoena listed the advantages of reviving movies in the townships and focusing on African cinema: communities get to experience the wealth of talented African actors and actresses around and come to appreciate the fact that African film makers are as creative and capable as their counter-parts in other countries.
"There are aspiring young actors and film makers in our communities. This project is helping them work towards their dream of working in the industry. They now know that this is an achievable goal."
Mokoena also used the opportunity at screenings to give inspirational talks, with the aim of encouraging future stars and guiding them on how to approach the entertainment industry.
Talking to City Press this week, Mokoena said he was now embarking on offering a series of talks, packaged into a seminar called Book Your 1st Gig, aimed at empowering aspiring actors and hosts with technical knowledge and presentation skills to boost their potential for success at auditions.
He said novices often needed strategies and techniques to give them a head start when entering the industry and help them sharpen their skills.
So, Book Your First Gig is open to anyone who has what it takes to make it as an actor or presenter, but needs inside information on how to win over the casting community.
The sessions will be facilitated by some of the country's most sought-after actors, agents and producers.
Mokoena (34) features in e.tv's drama series Broken Vows and presents Sinawe 72, a reality series that gives families a chance to revamp their homes.