Urucu Media’s hugely anticipated drama Necktie Youth walked away with top honours at the Durban International Film Festival on Saturday night, winning both the best South African feature award and the international jury award for best director for director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer.
Said the jury in their report on Necktie Youth: “a film desperate to reconcile the seemingly disparate realities of its country, and whose urgent questions about South African life are posed with such mischievous energy that they cannot help provoke debate, itself one of the most important responsibilities of cinema.”
The international jury commented that newcomer Shongwe-La Mer (who has recently been signed by top international agents LBI and Casroto) was awarded the best director accolade “for displaying a unique, contemporary voice weaving together poetic images and a striking view of South African youth with a boldness seldom seen in South African cinema.”
Necktie Youth, which follows the hedonistic antics of Johannesburg’s affluent new-born generation, had a successful career before it’s South African debut, selling out all festival screenings at its world premier at Berlinale International Film Festival as well as Tribeca and Sydney International Film Festivals. Cineuropa named it best in show at Berlinale and the film went on to gather rave reviews in Variety, IndieWire, Elle, The New York Times, Le Monde and Dazed & Confused who called it the “South African Kids”, a comparison to Larry Clark’s 1995 cult classic.
SterKinekor has confirmed the South African release of Necktie Youth on the 18th of September and Urucu is in advanced negotiations with M-Net for the TV broadcast.
The week has been a busy one for producers Elias Ribeiro and John Trengove from Urucu Media who also announced REALNESS, a pan-African screenwriter’s residency that will launch in 2016. “We are very excited to have the backing of the French Institute and Durban FilmMart for this initiative. The aim of REALNESS is to nurture a new crop of talented African film writers by offering them a 3 month incubation to develop their feature scripts”. These projects will be presented to a jury and independent producers at Durban FilmMart 2016.
As part of their commitment to bringing more quality art-house films from across the world to South African screens, Urucu has started a partnership with Cannes’ La Semaine de la Critique competition (Critics Week). This year, five diverse films from the competition had screenings in Durban, with one of the directors, Boris Lojkine (Hope) travelling to Durban to conduct a masterclass with local filmmakers. The five films will go on to have limited runs this weekend (31st August – 2nd September) in Johannesburg’s Rosebank Cinema Nouveau and in Cape Town’s W&A Waterfront Cinema Nouveau. La Semaine de La Critique are responsible for launching the careers of such giants in the art film world as Ken Loach, Won Kar Wai and Alejandro Gonzales Iñaritu (Birdman).
Urucu’s next feature film slated for production is The Wound the highly anticipated first feature by John Trengove. The film, which deals with a gay teenager who undergoes the Xhosa circumcision initiation ritual, has collected several development and production awards from French broadcaster Arte, Torino Film Lab, the Hamburg Regional Fund and Hubert Bals in Holland. The film, which is slated to start shooting later this year and has been denied support from the NFVF despite the fact World Sales Agent Pyramide believes so much in the festival and market potential of the film that they are also investing in the film with a Distribution Minimum Guarantee. Urucu is currently seeking local private equity investment to close it’s financing.