Fresh off the boat from a whirlwind European tour and recently bestowed with a SAFTA, multiple award-winning short film The Suit will screen for local audiences at the National Arts Festival in July.
Directed by Jarryd Coetsee and produced by Luke Sharland of Mandala Films, The Suit is the first film adaptation of the acclaimed short story by Can Themba set against the backdrop of the apartheid regime's forced removals in 1950s Sophiatown. Featuring stellar performances by Atandwa Kani, Phuthi Nakene and John Kani, the story is about a man that forces his wife to treat her lover's suit as if it were a person, with tragic consequences.
Director Jarryd Coetsee says: "I've recently returned to South Africa from France, Greece and Italy, where I presented The Suit to audiences at some of its European screenings, as a guest of the Academie des Cesar and its corresponding academies in those countries, and participated in Q&A sessions. It's quite humbling and touching that the film has resonated so broadly on an international scale. I believe that this can be attributed to the specific and general relevance of the story. Through the thematic lenses of adultery and revenge, the story perhaps makes a more substantial comment about the impact of oppression on personal relationships. I'm absolutely thrilled and grateful about showing The Suit at the National Arts Festival. It's a testament to the excellent collaboration of our team, and also because the festival is a celebration of the highest artistic expression and achievement in our country, an important platform for the sharing of ideas and impressions, and a beacon of inspiration for our people."
The Suit will be screened on July 6, 7 and 8 at 18h00, followed by brief Q&A sessions with the film's lead actors. The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.
Starting at the end of June/beginning of July, it runs for 11 days in the small university city of Grahamstown, which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130km from Port Elizabeth.
The Festival comprises a Main and a Fringe programme, which are both administered by the National Arts Festival Office. The Festival is reliant on sponsorship with the core sponsors being the Department of Arts and Culture, the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture and the Office of the Premier, and Standard Bank of South Africa. Media partners include M-Net and City Press newspaper.
The programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, and a children's arts festival.
The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.
The Suit was selected in competition at two Oscar-qualifying film festivals: Urbanworld in New York City and the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles where it received a Special Mention. It won the Best Short Film competition of the Scotland African Film Festival (AiM) in Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as the Audience Award of the Cape Town leg of the Switzerland-based Shnit International Short Film Festival. The film was also selected by the Academie des Cesar (France's national academy of cinema which gives France's highest honour for film, the Cesar Award) for its prestigious "Les Nuits en Or" (Golden Nights) event which saw the film screened in nine European capitals (Paris, Rome, Athens, Madrid, Stockholm, Lisbon, Vienna, Brussels and Luxembourg), 24 cities and towns across France and a gala evening hosted by UNESCO in Paris and attended by France's leading actors and film-makers.
The film was also shown at the Zanzibar International Film Festival where it was given a Special Mention, the Schomburg Center's "Best Of" film series and the New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival both in New York City, the Toronto Black Film Festival, the Vancouver-South African Film Festival, the Red Bull Amaphiko Film Festival (in Soweto), the Durban International Film Festival and it opened the Mauritius International Short Film Festival. The film screened in nineteen different cities in Belgium as part of the Leuven African Film Festival.
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