WHILE it has been five years since, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ was awarded Best South African Film in Development at the Durban FilmMart’s finance forum, it is only now that South Africans will get the opportunity to see the movie, considered to completely redefine the international perception of what African cinema can be.
Following the blockbuster success of Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ which has highlighted the global need for black heroes, high praise from critics and positive word of mouth have helped to sustain the buzz around the film, which set social media on fire ahead of its premiere. And the feeling is that this bodes well for South Africa’s first Western, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’.
Vuyo Dabula, who helms the film with his role as an outlaw who returns home after 20 years, said: “The cinematic and narrative vision of Five Fingers for Marseilles effortlessly crosses over the threshold of a bright and bold future for filmmaking in Africa. Given the global conversation on race, it is more important than ever for the film industry to tell stories that are rooted in the culture of people of colour, something which the industry as a whole has neglected to do. Black South African kids need to see people who look like them on screen. Our audiences need to see stories about strong, brave, heroic black characters. ‘Five Fingers’ is a powerful African story introducing a new type of African hero.”
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Thanks to good storytelling and original content, ‘Five Fingers’ has received rave reviews at festivals around the world. It was described by one US reviewer as one of the most striking debuts of recent years and named as part of ‘a wave that will completely redefine the international perception of what African cinema can be’. The movie was also made possible with the backing of South Africa’s National Film & Video Foundation and the Department of Trade and Industry, and with additional support from Dupa Films.
“The characters are tough, complex and proud. Predominantly in Sesotho, it’s a Western-inspired tale of an outlaw who returns home after years on the run and finds a chance for redemption. It challenges stereotypes and features powerful black heroes against the backdrop of a stunning African landscape,” added director Michael Matthews.
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