LONDON — Oscar-winning producer Eric Abraham has joined forces with South African-based director Mark Dornford-May to create theater and film projects with South African talent for an international audience.
Dornford-May, who won the Golden Bear at Berlin for “U-Carmen,” has opened a Cape Town branch of Abraham’s Porto-bello Pictures, and is rolling his existing projects into the joint venture.
South African theater producer Mannie Mannim will act as a consultant to the partnership.
Abraham and Dornford-May are already developing several stage co-productions with the Young Vic Theater in London.
Dornford-May will also direct Portobello’s stage and movie adaptations of Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s novel “A Human Being Died That Night.”
Abraham is also developing a movie version of Ian Holding’s novel “Unfeeling,” set in Zimbabwe, with South African director Ian Gabriel and screenwriter Hofmeyr Scholtz.
Other talent in discussions for new projects with the joint venture include South African actress Janet Suzman, actor Alan Rickman, director Stephen Daldry, “U-Carmen” opera singer and actress Pauline Malefane, and composer Charles Hazlewood.
Abraham, who produced Jan Sverak’s Oscar-winning “Kolya,” was born in South Africa but was exiled to Britain 30 years ago, after being placed under house arrest by the apartheid government. At the time, he was working as a BBC correspondent.
“Over 30 years ago, as a Cape Town-born foreign correspondent, I helped give voices of the disenfranchised black majority an opportunity to be heard abroad. Now as a theater and film producer I want to do the same for some of its extraordinary creative talent,” he commented.
“South African film and theater achievements in the international arena make a great antidote to the common perception abroad of South Africa and Africa in general.”