Renowned South African writer, lyricist, composer, director and theatre producer Mbongeni Ngema’s Asinamali will be the closing film at the Durban International Film Festival this Sunday, 23 July.
“We are honoured to have the veteran creative’s film close the festival this year. The play made international headways since its production in the early 80’s. It is only fitting that its immortalization into the small screen takes place at this festival,” said festival manager Chippo Zhou.
“The strategic correctness of hosting the international film in boosting film in South Africa and the continent has been proven over the years as the growth of the festival has been in synchrony with the growth in the profiling of local productions,” she added.
Asinamali is an adaptation of Dr Ngema’s Broadway production written in 1983 and performed world wide. It follows the story of inmates in a prison that is ruled by cruelty and fear. The prisoners are galvanized into action with the arrival of Comrade Washington, a former soldier turned theatre director who inspires them to find liberation through music, dance and storytelling, culminating in a performance for the prison authorities.
The inmates tell the stories behind their incarceration, all affected by the oppression outside the prison walls. Many were comrades of Robben Islander, Msizi Dube, who led them, with anger and passion in their hearts, to demonstrate against proposed Lamontville Township rent increases, crying ASINAMALI – We have no money. Dube had left Robben Island with a charge from Nelson Mandela to ‘go and advance the struggle on behalf of his fellow comrades that remain behind and the people of South Africa so that they could one day join him in a free South Africa’.
The film has been hailed as once again attesting to Ngema’s creative genius and will leave audiences thrilled by the powerful narrative, passionate performance and searing harmonies at its heart .
The film features an original soundtrack by Ngema combining his exceptional skills in song, dance, arrangement and acting over the years to creative powerful artistic pieces.
Asinamali is produced by Mbongeni Ngema and Darrell Roodt whose earlier collaboration on Sarafina! resulted in a globally successful film. While Roodt directed Sarafina!, Ngema directs Asinamali with the full backing of Roodt and executive producer David Dison.
Ngema has been quoted as saying the reason for producing the film has been the need to preserve the story for future generations.