JOHANNESBURG — A South African, Italian co-production deal for a film adaptation of thesp/scribe John Kani’s acclaimed play, “Nothing But the Truth,” was signed in Cannes between South African producer Richard Green (The Wooden Camera) of Jazz Spirit Prods. and Italians Enrico Colletti of Anaada Films and Massimo Vigliar of Surf Films.
The deal, signed more than two years after Green first mooted turning the play into a feature film, was made possible by the Italian, South African co-production treaty concluded at the Sithengi Film and Television Market in November 2003.
“Nothing But the Truth,” Kani’s first play written solo, opened at the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown in July 2002 and played to full houses around the country and around the world.
The drama is set against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa in 2000, when the last public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into apartheid atrocities were being held, and explores what happens when the long-held secrets and apartheid-era experiences of a black South African family are confronted.
Green says the project is in development, with production due to start in September. It will shoot on location in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth 900km east of Cape Town, predominantly in the New Brighton black township. Budget is still to be finalised.
Kani (“The Wild Geese”) will play the lead role while the producers are in the early stages of negotiations with “Hotel Rwanda Oscar” nominee Sophie Okenedo.
Helmer Ross Devenish (“Bleak House”) will direct his first feature since returning from the U.K. in 2002 after having left apartheid South Africa in the early 1980s.
Devenish worked extensively with Kani and his playwright/actor colleague Athol Fugard during the 1970s and early 1980s and he has described the opportunity to work with Kani on “Nothing But the Truth” as “what I dreamt of doing when I came home to the new South Africa.”