SK Global Entertainment, BlueLight and Black Mic Mac have boarded “Halo Daze,” the sophomore feature from South African director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, whose acclaimed debut “Necktie Youth” premiered at the Berlinale, the companies announced during the Sundance Film Festival.
Currently in production in Cape Town, “Halo Daze” follows the dark voyage of an aspiring young rapper whose internet fame fails to bring him and his family the better life he’d hoped for. Written by Shongwe-La Mer, it explores the fault-lines where class, race and ageing youth intersect in suspended animation, amongst a generation desperate for a moment of instant fame and comfort at any cost.
“Halo Daze” is produced in South Africa by Storyscope, Seriti Films, Stage 5 Films and Laika1991, and in Germany by Rohfilm Prods. Pic is due for completion mid-2021 with an eye toward release later this year.
The film is supported in South Africa by the National Film and Video Foundation and the Dept. of Trade and Industry’s rebate for international co-productions, and in Germany by regional funders MedienBoard Berlin-Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung. SK Global Entertainment have come on board as the primary equity partner.
Pape Boye and Eric Tavitian are executive producing and will handle international sales through Paris-based Black Mic Mac, a new packaging, financing, producing and sales venture fully dedicated to African content. South African pay-TV operator MultiChoice have acquired African rights.
Shongwe-La Mer’s first feature, “Necktie Youth,” a portrait of generational ennui set in the moneyed suburbs of Johannesburg, was described by Variety as “an anguished, abrasive debut” that was “vigorously felt and visualized” by the then-23-year-old director.
“‘Necktie’ was a very tight and fast low-fi production, due to the inability to find meaningful financing domestically,” Shongwe-La Mer told Variety. “As filmmakers our ability to dream up grander visions and mature as artists is not only influenced by the teams and talent we choose to work with, but the availability of adequate financing. Although this highly ambitious film will still be a tough graduation as an artist, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to make the films I want on my terms with the help of my producers in South Africa and around the world.”
Storyscope’s Neil Brandt said “Halo Daze” could be a “turning point” for South African and African filmmakers. “As a talent-inspired studio, we are motivated by the fact that we have attracted a blue-chip player such as SK Global onto Sibs’ film,” he said, “and we hope this marks a turning point for private equity’s investment into the abundance of visionary artists in South Africa, and indeed the continent, for a global audience that is becoming increasingly interested in African stories.”
“Halo Daze” marks the first foray into African cinema for SK Global, an independent entertainment company committed to the financing, development, and production of premium global content for international and local market audiences. The company supports artists in select territories including China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Latin America. Recent successes include the Golden Globe-nominated hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” the International Emmy Award-winning series “Delhi Crime,” and the Oscar-nominated feature “Hell or High Water.”
Producer Alain de la Mata, who through his U.K.-based company BlueLight identifies promising talents and projects backed by SK Global, said: “Our aim is to nurture and support the work of visionary directors from around the world. Sibs Shongwe-La Mer’s unique visual sense, his radical reinvention of film noir tropes, his deep cultural engagement and propulsive narrative gifts combine in ‘Halo Daze’ — a project with a truly universal relevance and appeal — and a perfect example of the work we exist to facilitate.”
Rohfilm’s Benny Drechsel added: “As one of Germany’s long-serving talent incubators we are proud to expand towards South Africa with Sibs, who speaks in a beautiful, radical and unique voice to a young audience connected by worldwide youth culture.”
Shongwe-La Mer is represented by Casarotto, Ramsay and Associates.