Love, friendship and growth in contemporary South Africa. Those are the themes of a new film by award-winning director Sara Blecher. Ayanda tells the story of a single-minded 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (Fulu Mugovhani), who has a talent for taking neglected pieces of furniture and “bringing them back to love”. Eight years after her father’s death, his prized auto repair garage is in deep debt and in danger of being sold, but Ayanda does everything in her power to hold onto his legacy.
The film also stars Nigerian actor OC Ukeje – winner of the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Actor, Jafta Mamabolo, Nthati Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Sihle Xaba and Vanessa Cooke.
Ayanda screened at the Cannes Film Market in May, where it was showcased by the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF). Actress Terry Pheto who co-produced the film, was on site to promote her latest project. Pheto reported that she was happy with the positive reaction the film received after its screening. “We are confident that if people love your film at Cannes, it will do well.” The NVFV also tweeted that film had been well received by the festival crowd.
Ayanda will have its world premiere in Los Angeles on 13 June, where it will screen in competition at the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival, which has a line-up of 74 feature films from around the globe.
It’s a big year for the festival which celebrates its 21st anniversary. Festival director Stephanie Allain says this year’s programme celebrates independent filmmaking and artists who are diverse, innovative and have unique points of view.
Part of this focus includes world premieres of films like Ayanda, which features in the World Fiction competition. The films selected for this section are unexpected and reflect diverse points of view. Ayanda will compete against films from Iran, Mexico, Sweden, Colombia, Cuba, Russia, South Korea and Japan.
“Ayanda is a story about women, made by women,” says director Blecher. “The film is set in a vibrant and diverse Johannesburg and gives audiences a colourful and vivid view of South Africa right now. With a youthful cast, it has energy and street style. At its heart, however, the film looks at what it’s like for a young girl to grow up without a father, and how she and others around her have to learn how to let go of the things and people they love to move forward.”
Blecher’s previous film Otelo Burning (2011), a gripping story about township kids as they discover surfing, won numerous international awards and screened at festivals all around the world. Her latest project Dis Ek, Anna (It’s Me, Anna), based on the highly-acclaimed eponymous autobiography by Anchien Troskie, will be released later this year.
Ayanda was produced by Real Eyes Films and Leading Lady Productions, with the support of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), Africa Magic and the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). It will be distributed in South Africa by Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution, and is set for nationwide release on 28 August.