JOHANNESBURG — The most widely acclaimed new play written in post-apartheid South Africa, John Kani’s “Nothing but the Truth,” will be made into a film directed by Ross Devenish (“Bleak House”) and starring Kani (“The Wild Geese”).
“Nothing but the Truth” opened at the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown in July and has played to full houses with universal praise from critics.
Drama is set against the political backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa in 2000, when the last public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into apartheid atrocities were held.
When producer Richard Green, who worked with Kani on “Soweto Green” during the 1980s, saw the play, he immediately saw its potential as a film.
“This has all the right elements. It is a piece of South African history yet it is so human and honest — in essence, just a story about a man and his life and relationships under apartheid. It scratches the surface but is not in your face and made audiences of all races laugh and cry.”
For Devenish, the opportunity to do the film is a dream come true. Born in South Africa, he left in the early 1980s for England, where he distinguished himself directing for the BBC before returning this past September. “Directing this compelling human drama is everything I dreamt of when I came home,” he said.
Kani said the pic’s budget is conservatively estimated at around $1.5 million but is “flexible.”
Kani and Devenish are adapting the play; financing is being negotiated. Filming will start before the end of the year on location in Port Elizabeth, New Brighton and in a Johannesburg studio.
Green said there was already international interest in the project and a co-production was possible, but he hoped to secure funding entirely from within South Africa.
“We are passionate about trying to do it here but are looking at international deals. It is important to get an international distributor on board up front,” said Green.