“Billy Elliott with Cape jazz” / Starring SAFTA Best Actress winner Linda Sokhulu in her feature film debut & Joburg-born Oscar-nominee Dame Janet Suzman in her first South African film / Directed by SAFTA Lifetime Achievement winner Roberta Durrant, leading an all-woman writing, directing, line producing and DOP team
Filming has just wrapped in Cape Town on the new South African family feature film, Felix! The all-star cast includes Joburg-born Oscar-nominee Dame Janet Suzman (Nicholas and Alexandra, Nuns on the Run, Labyrinthe) in her first South African film; South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) Best Actress winner Linda Sokhulu (Isidingo, Generations, Sokhulu & Partners) in her feature debut; and newcomer Hlayani Mabasa, who was cast in the title role from over 400 auditions across the country.
14-year-old Felix Xaba dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father, but his mother Lindiwe (Sokhulu) thinks jazz is the devil’s music. When Felix leaves his township friends to take up a scholarship at an elitist private school, he defies his mother and turns to two aging members of his father’s old band (Thapelo Mofokeng and Royston Stoffels) to help him prepare for the school jazz concert.
Described as “Billy Elliott with Cape jazz,” Felix! is based on Shirley Johnston’s acclaimed script, which won Sithengi’s 2004 Writer’s Forum Award; was a quarter-finalist in both Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest and the Moondance Screenwriting Competition; and was a finalist in the US Specscriptacular Competition.
SAFTA Lifetime Achievement winner Roberta Durrant directed. Durrant, who co-founded both Penguin Films and Paw-Paw Films, was the creative producer on the feature films Inside Out and Skilpoppe, as well as on the International Emmy-nominated TV series Home Affairs, Stokvel and Sokhulu & Partners, but Felix! is the first feature film script she has chosen to direct.
Natalie Haarhoff, who shot the Emmy-nominated Orphans of Nkandla and the BAFTA-nominated Lost Girls of South Africa, was the director of photography, while Kate Schalk line produced her debut feature film.
This makes Felix! the first South African film written, directed, shot and line produced by women since Elaine Proctor’sKin 12 years ago.
As the musical director, Murray Anderson, who has recorded Gold and Platinum records for the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, is working closely with South African Music Awards (SAMA) winner and former Standard Bank Young Artist of The Year Mark Fransman.
In a major scoop for Felix!, Johannesburg-born Suzman returned to South Africa to play Mrs Cartwright, the English teacher. The stellar cast includes familiar faces like Andre Jacobs, Langley Kirkwood, Nicholas Ellenbogen, Adrian Galley, Terry Norton, Andrea Dondolo and Jeanne Nielson.
Felix! is a Penguin Films production for Sabido Productions.