Skybok has become part of the team at Gravel Road Entertainment’s “Retro Afrika Bioscope” Division at the Waterfront Film Studios in Cape Town. Retro Afrika Bioscope is Gravel Road’s specialty release label for classic retro African content. The exciting challenge is to digitally restore 160 films that were made during the 70’s & 80’s in South Africa! We launched the Mayibuye Film Festivalwhich ran on SABC 1 from April 13-27 to showcase 6 films that have been restored so far. We’ve been to film festivals all over the world, including the Berlin Film Festival in Germany, The Carthage Film Festivalin Tunisia, The Lumiere Film Festivalin France + we also had our North American debutat MoMa in New York! The community is now around 30,000 members online!
See our crew working hard on digitally remastering the films – read more about them here. See the gallery of behind-the-scenes here (Photos by Patrick Ryan, shot on location at the Waterfront Film Studios).
It was the first time these films were seen by audiences in over 40 years, as well as being their first ever TV debut. I think these stories are so important because they are our heritage. It’s exciting to me that we can restore them to perfect condition and show them to modern South Africa. One of our films is Joe Bullet, originally banned in 1973 by the Apartheid government. It has now been recovered, fully restored & premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2014. It’s crazy to think that while it was being made Nelson Mandela was in prison and Winnie had just been arrested!
2 films aired back-to-back every Sunday night in April from 20h30 on SABC 1. If you missed them you can catch them via online streaming. We’ve got an awesome partnership with Wabona, one of Africa’s premiere video streaming services, to make the films available to the public for free (http://wabona.com/). If you are a Mxit user, watch them through that platform via Cinemo (Wabona’s mobile service). A new deal that’s been struck with Commuter TV will see the films running on TV screens in mini bus taxis throughout the country. There’s no excuse not to see these vintage African films!
I’ll never forget my trip to Pompeii. It was one of the most haunting places I’ve been to. It was a place of mystery and magic, which you could feel in the air. If you’ve never heard of it, the city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman town near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania. In the year 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted near it and buried the city under a thick blanket of ash.
Travelling to Tuscany was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had. I toured to Pisa, Montecatini and Florence. I’d heard so much about the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” that getting off the bus that day in Pisa was a tick off my bucket list! I loved the old streets, the ancient buildings and the history around this very interesting area.
4 Months ago while I was in Europe, I took a trip to Toledo. It’s a small village south of Madrid in Spain. It’s an official UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its sheer history and beauty. It has a famous history in the production of bladed weapons, which are now popular souvenirs of the city.
So something I’ve been working on is the blog for Doubell Machines. Tadaa! Here it is: Proudly Mandela Bay: The Lives Behind Your Doubell Machine. Again, I’m discovering my “inner designer” and enjoying it so much. There’s still a little to be done here and there, but after weeks of staff interviews, scanning, photographing and shooting, it is launched!
Something exciting I’ve been reading about is the biographical film of Mandela’s life, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”, which is being released in South Africa in just five months. Entirely South-African made and the only motion picture with full endorsement from Nelson Mandela himself and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, I can’t wait to see this! Film producer Anant Singh announced on 27 May this year (which marked the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela arriving on Robben Island as prisoner) that the film is in its final stages of post production and will be released on November 29. The film started development back in 1996 when Singh was granted the film rights to Mandela’s autobiography by Mandela himself. It’s amazing to think after all these years of planning and execution, we will finally get to see it. Directed by Justin Chadwick, it started its principle photography a year ago and shot for 16 weeks around South Africa. The movie begins in 1924 and follows Madiba from his early childhood, through to his arrival in Johannesburg and culminates with his election as president of South Africa in 1994. During the course of the film, three actors play Nelson Mandela – Siza Pini plays the 8 year old Mandela, Atandwa Kani plays him at 16, and Idris Elba plays the remaining years. I absolutely love Idris Elba, he stars in the British TV Drama “Luther“. People say this role could see the popular British actor as a serious contender in the next Oscar race. I wouldn’t be surprised! Here is a related article if you are interested in reading more about the film. You can also like its official Facebook page here.
In just over a month I’m off to New York to study “Acting for Film” + “Film Production” at the New York Film Academy. They have schools all over the world including in Los Angeles, Paris, Florence, Harvard University, Beijing, Japan, Abu Dhabi, India and Australia. I chose New York because I’ve never been and let’s face it, it’s arguably the capital of the world. I’m very excited for the months I will be there! Aside from the actual course, I’m excited for the incredible guest speakers they get at the school (Kevin Spacey, Ben Kingsley, Steven Spielberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Billy Zane and many more). I’ve put together a list of six things I want to make sure I experience while I’m there – I get that it’s a huge city, but these are things that stand out to me. I recently did a similar article for my Madrid trip in June (see the article here). What’s great is, I celebrate my 25th birthday the day after I land in the U.S, so I would love to do something really special to celebrate (throw any ideas at me if you have!)
1. A horse & carriage ride through Central Park. I can’t think of a better way to gently introduce myself to this city. let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to go back in time for a bit? It can be located on Central Park South between 5th and 6th avenues.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love art and I think I’ll absolutely love this famous museum. I’m particularly interested in the museum’s collection of ancient Egyptian art!
3. A stroll through the West Village in Manhattan. I saw an article on it by Time Magazine here. What appeals to me about this are the cobblestone streets which have remained unchanged since the 19th century. The Magnolia Bakery sounds amazing with their signature cupcakes. I understand their cupcake of the month this month is the “hummingbird” – banana, pineapple and pecan cake with sweet cream cheese icing topped with toasted pecans. Yum.
4. The Metropolitan Opera House. It’s located on Broadway at Lincoln Square in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and it opened in 1966. The night of my birthday they are staging “The Sleeping Beauty” at 7:30pm.
5. Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village. What can I say, I love comedy! I hear this is a great club.
6. Film Forum. From my understanding this is a very popular independent movie house. I can imagine the films shown here are very interesting. As a film graduate, I will definitely appreciate what I would otherwise never get to see! I like the look of the original “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Another one that caught my eye was “Rosemary’s Baby” starring Mia Farrow.
How about you? Do you have any suggestions for me for when i’m in New York?
So I’ve just done another shoot with my favourite photographer Sarah Keogh. She is so professional with such a great eye and is very good at what she does!! I had a lot of fun with her on this shoot and also with Nina Thompson at Kinky Curly Straight Hair Designwho did my make-up and hair. Together we shot a stunning editorial with a story about a passionate love. Our protagonist is an old hollywood theatre doyenne and as the story begins, she finds herself in a majestic opera house preparing for her performance in a few hours. She is decked in pearls, lace, fur and diamonds. I liked the symbology of the props we used:
1. Pearls. Pearls symbolize Purity, Spiritual Transformation, Charity,Honesty, Wisdom and Integrity, all the best within us.
2. Gold. As well as being associated with power,strength and wealth, Gold is associated with the wisdom of aging and fruition. The fiftieth wedding anniversary is golden. Our precious latter years are sometimes considered “golden years”. The height of a civilization is referred to as a “golden age”. In the same way, our protagonist feels a connection to gold as she she feels she has grown up beyond her years. Her life has catapulted her into the limelight very quickly and she is experiencing her golden years at a young age. Through this she has attained great power, wealth, strength and influence. However, she has had to sacrifice her youth and naivety. She’s learnt hard life lessons that have pushed her spiritually, emotionally and psychologically beyond the age of her peers. As a result she feels alone in the world, with the red velvet settees her only companions.
3. The Mirror.Reflecting surfaces as well as the natural reflective surface of the water plays an important role in the religious concepts of many people. It is believed that somebody who gazes at his own reflection will lose his soul in the process. Therefore Narcissus, who was in love with his own reflection, was doomed. This was because his soul was ‘captured’. In many customs, in order to bar the dead from staying on earth, people veiled the mirrors in the death chamber (especially true in the Victorian era). This was to ensure that the soul of the departed would not get trapped behind the glass and be prevented from passing to ‘the other side’.
4. The Star. For centuries, the symbol of the star has been used to reference divinity, intuition, the feminine, hope and guidance. Stars offer the unique ability to guide us through the night. They can also refer to one’s need to discover their own inner light. Stars exists above us as well as within us. They encourage us to reach beyond our own egos and trust in something much greater than ourselves. The woman in our story has a star around her neck, representing she has found her inner light and values her intuition to guide her in times of darkness.
5. The Camera.The camera is symbolic of capturing truth.
6. Red.Red is the color of blood, rubies and strawberries. Next to orange at the end of the visible spectrum of light, red is commonly associated with danger, sacrifice, passion, fire, beauty, blood, anger. Red is a very ancient colour, spanning across all cultures. Red was associated with life,health, and victory. But, like many colors, it also had a negative association, with heat,destruction and evil. A prayer in ancient Egypt to god Isis said: “Oh Isis, protect me from all things evil and red.” A red dye called Kermes was made beginning in the Neolithic Period by drying and then crushing the bodies of the females of a tiny scale insect in the genus Kermes, primarily Kermes vermilio. The insects live on the sap of certain trees, especially the Kermes oak tree near the Mediterranean region. Kermes is also mentioned in the Bible. In the Book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to have the Israelites bring him an offering including cloth “of blue, and purple, and scarlet.” In ancient India, the rubia plant has been used to make dye. A piece of cotton dyed with rubia dated to the third millennium BC was found at an archaeological site at Mohenjo-daro. It has been used by Indian monks and hermits for centuries to dye their robes. In Ancient China, artisans were making red and black painted pottery as early as the Yangshao Culture period (5000-3000 BC). A red-painted wooden bowl was found at a Neolithic site in Yuyao, Zhejiang. Other red-painted ceremonial objects have been found at other sites dating to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-221 BC).
7. Hair. The end of this part of the story sees the silhouette of our protagonist looking to the side. This is her side profile; indicative of the moment just before she turns to face the world, when she will put on her ‘game face’ and perform. Hair is very symbolic in many cultures. No other part of the body seems to hold such a variety of symbolic power as the hair. It is both part of our body, and therefore part of our individual identity, and yet at the same time it is changeable. Generally when it is loose it indicates we are relaxed and in our natural state (hence the saying “to let your hair down”). When we put our hair up, it is indicative of composure.
Last week I worked on a documentary-series called “The Great British Story” for BBC. It’s a documentary about the history of Britain, with different episodes making up the series. This was for episode 4. What an incredible experience. It was at The Castle monument here in Cape Town.