Afrocentric, inherently cool feature film Riding with Sugar has started shooting in Cape Town and promises to be a visual masterpiece. Written and directed by awarded filmmaker Sunu Gonera, Riding with Sugar is a coming-of-age, feel-good story about a young refugee who, despite many setbacks, finds his way, finds love and a chance to create a better life in Cape Town.
In true Sunu style, the film will have an unique African aesthetic with powerful, visually rich scenes and an undercurrent of passion and true grit.
With a British, Kenyan, Nigerian and South African cast, its highly anticipated 2019 release promises to be huge in SA, the continent and internationally.
Synopsis: Once a scholarship student with a great future, Joshua (Charles Mnene, UK) dreams of winning a BMX cycling championship as a means to finding a better life, but fate intervenes in the form of an accident that shatters his knee. He is given shelter and a job by Mambo (Hakeem Kae-Kazim, UK) who houses refugee teenagers from all over Africa.
When Joshua meets Olivia (Simona Brown, UK), a talented young dancer of mixed race from a well-to-do family, it brings him into a world he has never known before. Her insights cast a shadow over Mambo's agenda and cause Joshua to rise above all odds and find a way to a brighter future.
"Making this film has been a dream for me since I first returned to South Africa from the States five years ago," says Sunu. Coming back rebooted my directing career and ignited the deep love for my continent and a passion to tell our African stories, our way. It helped me discover my voice as a filmmaker."
The film boasts a strong cast which includes HAKEEM KAE-KAZIM (Black Sails, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men, Hotel Rwanda), CHARLES MNENE (The Bill, Holby City, Doctors, Ahead of the Class), SIMONA BROWN (Guilt and Roots, Him) and BRENDON DANIELS (League Of Glory, Madame and Eve, Five Fingers For Marseilles).
With music at its core, expect cameos from some of SA's hottest talent and a soundtrack you'll want to download as soon as you leave the cinema.
The production of the film has been made possible with the support of The National Lotteries Commission (NLC), The Department Of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Arco Venture Capital.
Keep your eye on social media for updates, interviews with the cast and news on competitions to win walk-on roles.
Facebook, Instagram: @RidingWithSugar
About the National Lotteries Commission:
The NLC regulates lotteries and sports pools to generate revenues that fund good causes. The Lotteries Act guides the way in which NLC funding may be allocated. The intention of NLC funding is to make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable, and to improve the sustainability of the beneficiary organisations. Available funds are distributed to registered and qualifying non-profit organisations in the fields of charities; arts, culture and national heritage; and sport and recreation.
By placing its emphasis on areas of greatest need and potential, the NLC contributes to South Africa's development.
Issued on behalf of Shekinah Tribe and Helena Spring Films by One-eyed Jack.
About the Director: Sunu Gonera
Hailing from the townships of Zimbabwe during the Civil War, Sunu's career reads more like a movie than real life. His sporting abilities enabled him to travel and study, resulting in a degree in Psychology from the University of Cape Town. Despite a promising banking career, Sunu's dream of filmmaking soon took over. Within three short years, he received several awards for commercials for brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola.
In 2006, Sunu landed his first feature with Lionsgate's Pride, which tells the true story of Jim Ellis (played by Academy Award(r) nominee Terrence Howard). He has also directed episodes of Madam Secretary for CBS and Snowfall for Showtime. Dubbed one of the finest directors in South Africa, Sunu won Gold, two Silvers and a Bronze at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2017 in the most highly awarded campaign of the year category; Absolut Vodka's One Source campaign featuring Khuli Chana.
"As directors, we are trying to find our own unique African voice under extreme circumstances, where creativity and ingenuity have become essential tools to not only winning jobs but in executing them without compromising."
About the Producer: Helena Spring
Helena Spring is widely recognised as one of the most accomplished and experienced producers in the South African film industry.
She has produced 28 motion pictures, which include:
* Yesterday The first South African film to receive recognition at the Academy Awards(r); earning a Best Foreign Picture nomination in 2004, a Primetime Emmy(r) nomination and an Independent Spirit award nomination.
* Mad Buddies The first South African motion picture to be co-produced and distributed by the Walt Disney Company - R30 million at the local box office.
* Happiness is a Four-Letter Word (2016) based on the Cynthia Nozizwe Jele novel. It made R14.5-million at the local box office and received the Africa Magic Viewer's Choice Awards (2017) winner for Best Cinematography (Lance Gewer) and a Mbokodo Female-Ensemble Award.
* Keeping Up with the Kandasamys (2017) The highest-earning local film of 2017 with R16.2 million at the local box office.
Helena has worked with some of the most respected filmmakers in the world, such as Paul Greengrass (The Theory of Flight, Bourne Supremacy) and Academy Award winner, Tom Hooper (Red Dust, The King's Speech).
Other accolades include Paljas, selected as South Africa's first official entry in the 1998 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film Category, Darrell James Roodt's Sarafina! starring Whoopi Goldberg, which received a Christopher Award and Roodt's Cry, The Beloved Country, starring James Earl Jones and Richard Harris, which garnered the New York Christopher Award.
Helena is a 2013 Mbokodo winner in the category Women in Film, for her contribution to the development of, and on-going participation in, the South Africa's film industry.