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LUCKY WINS AGAIN (article first published : 2006-04-24)

Written and directed by Briton Avie Luthra and produced by Durban based Junaid Ahmed, Lucky is a 20 minute short film that is currently taking the international film festival circuit by storm. It tells the story of an Aids orphan desperate to leave his rural Zulu village for the bright lights of Durban. He is full of excitement and hope but has to learn about life the hard way. Not through school or education … but through an unlikely bond with a racist Indian neighbour.

Junaid Ahmed, the producer of Lucky, says that it is remarkable that this film was made at all. “We had limited resources, hardly any money and all the actors in Lucky were either non-professional or semi-professional. The crew, comprising a small band of professionals and mostly trainees, agreed to work for nothing- as did the cast. For most of them this was their first film and so the training component of this production was very high.”

Ahmed recently attended the 15th Aspen Shortsfest, held in Aspen, Colorado. He is especially pleased that Lucky screened at this particular festival. “Aspen Shortfest is now regarded as the most prestigious short film festival in the world. This year, the international competition included 50 short films from 15 countries and finalists were selected from a worldwide offering of almost 2,000 works. The competition was therefore very tough!”

Aspen Shortfest International Competition is an Oscar Academy Award-qualifying competition and the jury included acclaimed cinematographer John Bailey (The Producers, As Good As It Gets), director Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), esteemed film critic Bob Denerstein and writer-director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking).

“The screening ofLucky received a resounding ovation and I was overwhelmed by the interest in the film, both by local Aspenites and the international filmmakers who attended the festival,” says Junaid Ahmed. “They were emotionally drawn in by the story, astounded by the performances of non-professional film actors, excited by the craft of storytelling and for many of them, the film resonated with its freshness in style and content. I was therefore not surprised that Lucky won two awards at the festival: the Youth Jury Prize and the Special Jury Recognition for Outstanding Performance by a Child which went to Joy Mwandla.

“Aspen Shortfest 2006 was not only an affirmation that our films can compete with the best in the world but it also afforded me the opportunity to extend my knowledge in terms of marketing our films- including selling skills and ideas,” he concludes. “It was also an incredible platform to network and build relationships with an international band of filmmakers from Palestine, Australia, England, Norway, USA and many other countries. It also focused my own work in terms of developing specific goals and the affirmation that we continue to tell our own unique stories in our visionary voices and that these do find resonances and critical acclaim in the rest of the world.”

More information from Junaid Ahmed on 031 261 1154 or 082 444 6682.




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