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NAF PREMIERES (article first published : 2003-05-19)

The multiple-award-winning New Zealand film Whale Rider (Ster-Kinekor) heads a quartet of film premières billed on the diverse film programme for the 2003 National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, June 27 – July 5).

Liza Key’s 90-minute feature on David Kramer’s musical reclamation project, Karoo Kitaar Blues, will have its world première.

The other movies taking their first South African airings are The Honest Thief, remake of a classic French gangster tale from NuMetro, and the Synergy SA production Sitting Ducks, a comedy about culture clash in London directed by UK-based South African Gerald Fox.

Living up to the filmic reputation the Lord of the Rings epics earned for New Zealand, the critic- and audience-pleasing Whale Rider also has enchantingly mythic dimensions. The film is part family entertainment, part art cinema, with a narrative drawn from a Maori community who hold the whale sacred. Pia, the central figure, is a lonely young girl whose mother and twin brother died in childbirth. Her father has emigrated and her angry and desperate grandfather, the community leader, seeks a (male) successor to replace Pia’s dead brother. A pod of whales beaches nearby, and the battle to keep them alive brings all the personal and traditional tensions to the surface. In an unforgettable climax, adolescent Pia exercises the ancient power that is her birthright.

Key Films’ Karoo Kitaar Blues, South Africa’s answer to Ry Cooder’s The Buena Vista Social Club, takes the viewer along with David Kramer on a second voyage of musical discovery across that sea of sky and space, the Karoo. Following on the success of his initial sortie in 2001, he is searching for the rugged individualists who make music their own way in tiny marginalised communities. Picking up eccentric and radical talents along the way, the journey culminates in Cape Town where the musicians rehearse and record their music and present a new show. Kramer will attend the Festival showing of the film and give a Winter School talk on the project.

NuMetro’s contribution to the programme of premières, The Honest Thief, is a remake by Irish director Neil Jordan of the French classic, Bob le Flambeur. It features Nick Nolte as a veteran gangster and gambler bent on a last casino heist. Ralph Fiennes and Emir Kusturica (director of Time of the Gypsies) also play prominent roles.

A warm and light-hearted take on the increasingly topical issue of asylum-seekers, Fox’s Sitting Ducks tells of a group of Kosovans adrift in London. They enter and occupy a posh house and when the film-producer owner and his larney girl friend come home, mayhem of the whackiest kind ensues.

This year’s National Arts Festival is sponsored by the Eastern Cape Government, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Standard Bank, the SABC and the National Arts Council.

Free Booking Kits for the Festival are available at selected Standard Bank branches and major Computicket outlets and booking is open at Computicket nationwide.




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