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BOY CALLED TWIST (article first published : 2005-09-26)

It's taken three years' hard work and the faith of 1,000 investors but the long-awaited South African theatrical release of Boy Called Twist will take place on September 30.

Three years ago, independent local filmmaker Tim Greene had an audacious idea to raise finance for his first feature film. Instead of looking for money from a single source, he convinced 1,000 ordinary people to each invest R,000 in his movie. “Whether or not the 1000 investors will ever see their money again depends largely on how many South Africans see the film in the first two weeks of October,” said Greene this week.

The South African release of Boy Called Twist by Ster Kinekor at the end of September is a major milestone for this searingly honest and endearing local film. Greene is best known for his ground-breaking work on Hard Copy (SABC3) and Tsha Tsha (SABC1).

“It is a brutal story of a street child’s search for love, based on Charles Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist,” explains Greene. The film is set in contemporary Cape Town, and stars Engelbrecht, Trix Pienaar, Lesley Fong and introduces young star, Jarrid Geduld in the title role.

Greene’s first feature film, Boy Called Twist was screened in Cannes this year and has been invited to festivals around the world. Greene confirmed this week that international sales company Montecristo Entertainment had signed to represent the film on the global market.

“The South African film industry is teetering on the brink of emergence, with more films coming out this year than ever before,” says Greene, who is quick to point out that “it is still a prohibitive industry to enter, with most first-time directors, finding it impossible to raise finance.”

However, through spreading investor risk to the point where it was negligible, Greene found a way to sidestep this seemingly insurmountable obstacle. 1,000 investors became shareholders and Cape Town production company Monkey Films supplied the expertise and infrastructure needed to realise Greene’s vision.




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