South African Thriller ‘Five Fingers’ Launches Production With All-Star Cast

Production is set to begin on “Five Fingers for Marseilles,” a South African thriller set in the rugged badlands of the Eastern Cape. After seven years and 5,000 miles of research and development across the countryside, writer Sean Drummond and helmer Michael Matthews have attracted an all-star cast of local talent for their Western-inspired tale of an outlaw who returns home after years on the run, and finding a chance at redemption.

By putting a contemporary spin on Western themes, Drummond says, “The time is more right than ever before for this film.

“Socially and politically, a lot of the themes we explore are resonating now,” he says, noting that “the good Westerns always had socio-political undercurrents running through them.”

Thesp Vuyo Dabula heads an ensemble cast that includes Thishiwe Ziqubu, Kenneth Nkosi, Mduduzi Mabaso, Lizwi Vilakazi, Kenneth Fok, Anthony Oseyemi, Dean Fourie, and Jerry Mofokeng.  Cast by acclaimed casting director Moonyeenn Lee, pic will also use members of the local Eastern Cape communities for supporting roles.

The film was awarded Best South African Film in Development at the Durban FilmMart’s finance forum in 2013. Produced by Drummond and Matthews’ Be Phat Motel Film Company and Yaron Schwartzman and Asger Hussain of Game 7 Films (Academy Award-winner “Precious”), in association with Stage 5 Films (DIFF 2016 opener “The Journeymen”) and Above the Clouds, it was also made possible with the support of South Africa’s National Film & Video Foundation and the Dept. of Trade and Industry, with additional services from Dupa Films.

“Five Fingers” is slated for an early 2017 release in South Africa. Indigenous Film Distribution will release in South Africa, and XYZ Films represents North American sales.

Game 7’s Schwartzman says, “‘Five Fingers’ is a testament to the power, freshness and ingenuity of new narratives coming from across the world. Stories that need to be told and whose time has most definitely come. We’re proud to be associated with it.”

According to Drummond, the collaboration with foreign partners has been integral to the production from the early stages. “We’re carving a new model here in many senses: a fully local film in local language, with fully local cast, financed through a combination of S.A. and international funding, for a world audience,” he says.

“We’ve been conscious from the start of developing this film for an international audience as much as a South African one, and we were lucky to meet Game 7 Films early in development,” he adds. “The advice, experience and expertise of XYZ Films, too, when it comes to taking international genre films to the U.S. market, has been invaluable.”

Drummond notes that as the South African industry has grown bolder, audience tastes have evolved, allowing filmmakers to take more risks. Despite tough times for the local economy, he says, “it’s exciting to be making films here now. The S.A. new wave we’ve all talked up for years is really in its stride, and we’re honored to be part of it at this time.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Dan Stevens

    Dan Stevens Joins Netflix Comedy 'Eurovision'

    “Legion” star Dan Stevens has joined the cast of Netflix feature “Eurovision,” alongside Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan. The British actor, who made his name in “Downton Abbey” and recently finished a three-year run on FX’s “X-Men” spin-off “Legion” from Noah Hawley, will play Alexander Lemtov, a Russian contestant taking part in the [...]


    Tim Roth, Clive Owen-Starrer 'The Song Of Names' To Close San Sebastian

    Starring Clive Owen and Tim Roth, Canadian François Girard’s historical drama “The Song of Names” will close the 67th San Sebastian Festival on Sept. 28. World premiering at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival as a Gala Presentation, “The Song of Names” will play out of competition at what will be its international premiere. Hanway Films [...]

  • Dogwoof Boards Venice-Bound Imelda Marcos Doc

    Dogwoof Boards Venice-Bound Imelda Marcos Documentary ‘The Kingmaker’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Dogwoof has boarded Lauren Greenfield’s “The Kingmaker,” about Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. The hotly anticipated feature doc delves into the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and Imelda’s attempts to aid her son’s political career. It will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and then screen at [...]

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    Cheng Cheng Films Nabs North American Rights to China's 'Send Me to the Clouds'

    New York-based distributor Cheng Cheng Films has acquired North American rights to first-time Chinese director Teng Congcong’s comedy drama “Send Me to the Clouds,” starring and produced by A-list actress Yao Chen. The company is planning a theatrical release for fall 2019. “Cheng Cheng has always championed films with strong female leads,” the firm said [...]

  • A White White Day

    Film Movement Brings ‘A White, White Day’ to the U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)

    OSLO  —  New-York based distributor Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to critically-lauded Icelandic drama “A White, White Day,” today’s opening film at New Nordic Films in Haugesund. In a separate deal, sales agent New Europe Film Sales has closed French-speaking Canada with Funfilm and English-speaking Canada with Game Theory. Hlynur Pálmason’s sophomore pic, “A [...]

  • (from left) Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)

    Korea Box Office: ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Topples ‘Exit,’ ‘Roar to Victory’  

    Opening on Wednesday, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” debuted on top of the South Korean box office. Showing on some 1,311 screens nationwide, the UPI release earned $15.1 million from 2.03 million admissions over five days. That included the four-day National Liberation Day weekend. “The Battle: Roar to Victory” remained in second. The [...]

  • Tracy Morgan Netflix stand-up special

    Film News Roundup: Tracy Morgan Joins Eddie Murphy's 'Coming 2 America'

    In today’s film news roundup, Tracy Morgan and Michael Rooker book roles in major movies, and Gravitas buys “Christmas Break-In.” CASTINGS Tracy Morgan has signed on to appear in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America” sequel as the brother of Lesley Jones’ character. “Hustle & Flow” helmer Craig Brewer is directing the project with Murphy, Kevin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content