×

Sci-fi energizes South African films

After 'District 9,' genre remains much in demand worldwide

CAPE TOWN — With the success of 2009’s “District 9” still fresh in their minds, producers are cherry-picking South African sci-fi properties, making it one of hottest genres this side of Swedish crime fiction. Two high-profile book adaptations and a host of other science fiction and fantasy fiction features are in development on the continent.

South African producer Helena Spring (“Yesterday”) has just bought the film rights to “Zoo City,” Lauren Beukes’ 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner,. a gritty urban noir fantasy about a woman who carries a sloth on her back, writes email scam letters, and has an ability to find lost things. When she’s hired by a reclusive music producer to track down a missing pop star, she hopes it’s her ticket out of the slum she calls home.

American producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle, director of the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program who also has a first-look deal with the studio, has scooped up the rights to Nigerian author Nneki Okorafor’s 2011 World Fantasy Award winner “Who Fears Death?,” a coming-of-age fantasy story, set in a rural Africa far in the future, where a female sorcerer reshapes the dystopian desert landscape — Cameron-Dingle described it as “?’Lord of the Rings’ in Africa.”

Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu (“From a Whisper,” “Pumzi”) is slated to write and direct Who Fears Death?” while Beukes, an experienced TV writer, has first look to adapt the “Zoo City” screenplay.

Cameron-Dingle and South African producer David Horler are also developing “Tok Tokkie,” a futuristic Cape Town ghost thriller written by Jenna Bass, a graduate of both Africa First and Story Camp, Focus Features’ invitation-only laboratory and workshop for projects under $1 million. “Tok Tokkie” won the 2010 Durban FilmMart, taking home the Hubert Bals Fund Award of €5,000 ($6,700) for the most promising African project.

Told from the POV of a ghost, “Tok Tokkie” is the furthest along of the three projects: it has local production funding from the National Film and Video Foundation, and is looking for additional money to shoot in 2012, with Bass directing.

A number of other South African genre projects are also under way. The first to shoot is likely to be Etienne Fourie’s “The Windmill,” a love story about a small group of aging friends who discover that the water pumped into a pond by an old windmill restores youth, but only temporarily, and with unexpected consequences. ZenHQ Films produces.

More Film

  • Stuber

    ‘Stuber’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Stuber.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.91 million through Sunday for 1,325 national ad airings on 42 networks. [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Box Office: 'Yesterday' Movie Takes on

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' and 'Yesterday' Take on 'Toy Story 4'

    The weekend box office has gone to the dolls. “Annabelle Comes Home,” a supernatural horror film about a possessed toy, is facing off against another band of plastic figurines: “Toy Story 4.” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is expected to dominate box office charts again over newcomers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday,” a fantasy musical set [...]

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content