Major international accolade for South African short film ‘The Suit’

‘The Suit’, a short film based on the acclaimed short story by Can Themba and directed by Jarryd Coetsee, has been selected for the 25th Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF-LA) which will take place in Los Angeles from the 9-20 February 2017.

PAFF-LA is the largest gathering of the African diaspora and the biggest Afrocentric film festival in the world. Every year, the film and fine arts festival attracts over a 100,000 people who attend screenings of films chosen from thousands of submissions from over 40 countries. PAFF-LA is dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding among people of African descent. The festival is also committed to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression.

Director Jarryd Coetsee says: “What a tremendous honour to share this story’s relevant and transformative message on such a prestigious international platform. ‘The Suit’ has only been on the film festival circuit for six months. But it has already fared so well, paving the way for more exciting opportunities and enabling us to meet compelling people all over the world. This latest accolade feels like a stroke of serendipity. Three weeks ago, I left my car at Paramount Studios and walked along crowded Melrose Avenue then up through Hollywood, engaging many different people on the way. Gradually, it dawned on me how much I love Los Angeles and California in general because of the values that underpin their liberal, diverse and cosmopolitan nature. I was pleasantly surprised and think it’s sensational that ‘The Suit’ has been selected for a festival based in this influential global city which esteems those values in a world that seems to be tapering towards blind patriotism, petty nationalism and the rise of concomitant social ills. Some people even caution a creeping fascism. To me, ‘The Suit’ is an allegory about the profound dangers that such insidious developments pose to all of us, particularly on a personal level.”

The film was produced by Luke Sharland of Mandala Films in association with the National Film and Video Foundation and a partnership with AFDA. Coetsee says: “Luke returned from Finland and hit the ground running. He handled the extraordinarily challenging task of producing a period short film on a miniscule budget with such flair and finesse. We were also lucky to assemble a remarkably gifted, adept and diligent cast and crew comprising different genders, races, religions and sexual identities. Given the subject matter of the film, it is a delightful reminder of how far we have come as a nation in only two and half decades of democracy.”

The film stars Naledi Award-winning actor Atandwa Kani, who has just returned from Atlanta after shooting the romantic comedy ‘Love By Chance’, and Phuthi Nakene who can be seen in Mzansi Magic’s ‘Doubt’, SABC 1’s ‘My Perfect Family’ as well as a recent Mercedes-Benz commercial. Theatre and film legend John Kani takes a masterful turn as the gossip Mr. Maphikela, and recently also appeared in ‘Captain America: Civil War’.

On the surface, ‘The Suit’ is about a man that takes the punishment of his wife for her adultery to the extreme by forcing her to treat her lover’s suit as if it were a person. Set in 1950s Sophiatown, the story is perhaps more profoundly about the forced removals implemented by the nationalist apartheid regime and the impact of oppression on personal relationships. It also suggests the ever-present threat of the oppressed becoming the oppressor. The film features ‘Strange Fruit’ by Billie Holiday and a number of songs by the leading kwela musician of the 1950s, Spokes Mashiyane. The costumes were either original 1950s pieces or bespoke and supplied by costume designer Pierre Vienings who also did the costume design on the Oscar-winning ‘Tsotsi’. The film was shot in some of the few buildings that survived the forced removals, including former Anglican Archbishop and anti-apartheid stalwart Trevor Huddleston’s house.

Coetsee says: “Next year marks fifty years since the untimely death of Can Themba. I think it’s befitting that my film adaptation of his most famous short story will be honoured in the same year at such a prestigious festival celebrating people of diverse African heritage. I also look forward to bringing the story to a broader audience in South Africa as we memorialize his legacy. I’m truly so grateful for the tremendous positive reception of the film in my home country and around the world which is a tribute to Can Themba and the work of our first-rate team.”

‘The Suit’ won the Short Film competition of the Africa in Motion – Scotland African Film Festival held in Edinburgh and Glasgow earlier this year. It also won the Audience Award of the Cape Town leg of the Swiss-based Shnit International Short Film Festival and was an Official Selection of the Oscar-qualifying Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. ‘The Suit’ opened the Mauritius International Film Festival, and though not part of the official competition, it was given a Special Mention by the jury of the Zanzibar International Film Festival where it held its official African premiere at the Old Fort in July. ‘The Suit’ was also screened in Soweto as part of the Red Bull Amaphiko Film Festival.

Contact:
Mandala Films
info@mandalacollective.com
Please note: Mandala Films does not accept unsolicited material.
OFFICIAL TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj1UZGkufvA&feature=player_embedded
TEASER TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvWsGtWRiN8
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/thesuitshortfilm/

Xolelwa Mayatula, Production & Development Coordinator – Fiction at the National Film and Video Foundation: (011) 483 0880.

Contact:
Mandala Films
info@mandalacollective.com
Please note: Mandala Films does not accept unsolicited material.
OFFICIAL TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj1UZGkufvA&feature=player_embedded
TEASER TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvWsGtWRiN8
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/thesuitshortfilm/

Xolelwa Mayatula, Production & Development Coordinator – Fiction at the National Film and Video Foundation: (011) 483 0880.

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