South Africa biz pins hopes on ‘Stander’

'Harriet's' Hughes to helm

JOHANNESBURG — Shooting will start here in August on Robert Carlyle pic “Stander,” a three-country co-production about one of South Africa’s most notorious villains that could be an international breakthrough for the territory.

Pic tells the story of Andre Stander, a cop-turned-robber who captured the imagination of the public in the late 1970s up until his violent death in 1984.

The movie will be directed by Canadian Bronwen Hughes (“Harriet the Spy”) on a budget of $16 million, enormous by South African standards; locally produced films usually run $3 million-$4 million.

Izidore Codron of the Imaginarium (South Africa), Susan Hoffman of Seven Arts (U.K.) and Martin Katz of Grosvenor Park (Canada) will exec produce. Chris Roland of the Imaginarium and Julia Verdin of Seven Arts will produce. Script was written by South African Bima Stagg.

Thomas Jane has signed to play Stander. Cast also includes Elias Koteas and South African native Embeth Davidtz.

Roland believes that Stander’s life story will have international appeal. “We believe this could be a breakout film for South Africa. Although Stander’s story was influenced by events during the apartheid era, it is a nonpolitical story with fascinating characters, drama and intrigue.”

Roland’s Imaginarium is also part of the first South Africa, Canadian and U.K. co-production, “Sandmother,” which is wrapping shooting in Cape Town, South Africa, and Namibia. The contemporary horror feature is helmed by first-time director Jason Wulfsohn from an original screenplay by Gordon Render and stars Scott Bairstow. It is due for international distribution by Overseas Filmgroup in October.

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