King of Kwano // Soccer: A South African tale told in Kwano

A blog by Wandisile Sebezo

On our Plett Summer Magazine, I wrote that Kwanokuthula is no doubt “Plett’s vibrant suburb”, no offence, not only has that part of the Plett community produced the likes of, for example, the nationally acclaimed actor, Luxolo Ndabeni, Amanda Valela whose short films has also seen her taking the world by storm and professional soccer player Athenkosi Dladla who plays for Super Sport and Bafana Bafana amongst others- it is also set to be the site of an upcoming short film correctly titled “King of Kwano”, which according to its producers- will be Africa’s first commercial film.

The pioneer behind the ‘King of Kwano’ is one Jahmil Qubeka, who has grown to be an acclaimed filmmaker in his own right. His film work has screened at various prestigious international film festivals – Rotterdam Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival, Cannes Film Market and Stockholm Film Festival.

Jahmil’s films includes Of Good Report. This particular film was banned by the South African government when the Film and Publications Board classified it as “child pornography”. The film centers on a high-school teacher who becomes obsessed with a 16-year-old student. As expected Qubeka disagreed with the government’s position, as did many in the South African film industry, so he fought and he succeeded. And things became even sweeter when “Of Good Report” had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013, and it went on to garner many international awards including the BAFTA LA Best feature Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2014.

His latest film, Sew The Winter To My Skin made it to the Cannes L’Atelier 2017. “Set in South Africa’s rural Great-Karoo region in the 1950′s this epic existential-adventure film chronicles the exploits of the outlaw John Kepe and the various individuals his escapades affected… Sew the Winter to my Skin is a thrilling, operatic ride into the heart of Pre-Apartheid South Africa and is a visceral exploration of the effects of the colonial displacement that sowed the seeds for one of the most viciously racist, political regimes in history”.

Jahmil has been working with iKasi Media. Lika Berning is the board member and producer, and just happens to be daughter-in-law to one of Plett’s most known medical practitioners- Peter Berning. I asked her of how iKasi Media came to being and she told me that “‘iKasi’ was a short film made 10 years ago in Kwano, it was always a dream of ours in the pipeline for all these years to come back to Kwano with a project. The idea was to make a feature film and to train interested youth and involve the community as much as possible. We are making this happen! iKasi Media is a training and development organisation that has grown over the years – we target unemployed youth and focus on entrepreneurship development and work placement. We recently presented a programme in George in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency, Eden Municipality, Bitou Municipality and Africa Skills Village”

This time around, iKasi Media and Jahmil Qubeka are bringing us ‘King of Kwano’, which shooting is scheduled to start on the 3rd of July 2018.

“The King of Kwano is a sports drama, about beating all the odds, about legends, and the power of a pipe dream.”

Lika explains: “A young boy from Kwano made it through a series of soccer trials and ended up playing for the Tottenam Hotspurs years ago– although our story isn’t based on reality, we liked the idea of a rural soccer team making it in the big league – The Kings of Kwanokuthula are a rugged team of ragtag players, and together they have to make the impossible possible. It’s a great classic sports film concept in the line of ‘Might Ducks’ and the more recently soccer film ‘Goal’”.

This film will surely put Plett and Kwano on the map, and the legacy is perhaps tapping the potential of undiscovered talent that we have as a town, hence it is very important that we give this project our full support. And the timing couldn’t have been much better – at a time where a Garden Route & Klein Karoo Film Office has been established. With its mission being “to facilitate and enhance an enabling environment that allows the film and television industry to play a meaningful role in the socio-economic development of the region”.

And like all other developmental programs and projects, the Plett Tourism office supports this. I certainly can’t wait for this film, kudos to the producers for taking the #PlettFeeling and sharing it with the world.

Read this and other posts by Wandisile here

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