While international film and TV shoots have been halted in South Africa for the past six months due to a ban on foreign flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the local industry have found a novel way to lift their spirits.
On Thursday, hundreds of South African actors and crew members will come together to make a feature film centering on the “Jerusalema” dance craze that has swept the world. The shoot coincides with Heritage Day, which celebrates the Rainbow Nation’s multiple cultures.
The film, shot over two days on a custom-built set at Cape Town Film Studios, will consist of two elements: a scripted narrative and a mass dance sequence. In the latter, performers will dance to “Jerusalema,” the upbeat gospel-inspired song, which features the voice of singer Nomcebo Zikode and was produced by Master KG. The film will be directed by Calvin Hayward alongside Abongwe L.Booi, and produced by Cheryl Eatock and James Muringani.
The official video of “Jerusalema” has pulled in more than 146 million views on social media since its premiere on YouTube in December. It has sparked a global viral dance challenge that started in Angola when a group of friends recorded a video of the dance choreography. Enthusiasts around the world – from frontline health workers in a Sweden hospital to priests in Italy – have shared posts of their versions of the dance. Earlier this month, “Jerusalema” became the world’s most Shazamed song.
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, gave the dance challenge his backing during a televised COVID-19 update last week. He encouraged all South Africans to perform the dance challenge on Heritage Day. He said “Jerusalema” was “a song I love so much,” adding: “I urge you to take up this challenge and show the world what we are capable of.” He said it symbolized what South Africa had managed to achieve combating the pandemic.
All facilities and services involved in the film will be supplied pro bono, including studio facilities, catering, equipment, and transport. Participants will support a charity drive by way of donations, food parcels and vouchers for the unemployed.
The project has received product and facilities sponsorship from Cape Town Film Studios, Media Film Service, The Refinery, Panavision, Film Afrika Fresh Unit Logistics, Steers, Debonairs Pizza, Fleet Star, Sterling Logistics, Bluewater, and CCPP Equipment Rental, as well as the support of local government in Cape Town and regional org Wesgro.