The pain of South African colonial history is set to come alive on Hollywood screens through a drama starring award-winning actress Charlize Theron, internationally acclaimed star Atandwa Kani and respected actress Zenande Mfenyana.
While the producers of Diamonds in the Dirt – which is set to be filmed in Amathole and Buffalo City Metro later this year – name-dropped who would star in it, Mfenyane was cagey about the project.
The drama is the brainchild of India-based film director, producer and writer Aadhitya Bahudhanam, who will co-produce it with Eastern Cape-based production company Next Media Film Productions.
Speaking at a media briefing in East London yesterday, Bahudhanam said the local production would be showcased in Hollywood “for the whole world to see”.
“We want to tell the story to the whole world.
“This international feature film was inspired by the true-life events of the arrival of the first Christian missionary in Mount Coke in the 18th century,” he said.
Bahudhanam said the 18th century Xhosa Frontier Wars between Ama-Xhosa tribes and European settlers would be a central theme.
He said the film would follow the role the missionary played in abolishing slavery in South Africa.
“I first conceptualised the film in India and as I was trying to see if there are any characters based on my story ideas, I coincidentally found that an Eastern Cape tribal chief [Chief Mhala Ndlambe] had a similar life story.
“That’s when I began doing more research on the history of colonisation in South Africa.
“So many countries were under colonial governance for a long time and suffered from slavery. Through this film, we want everyone to see the pain black people have experienced.
“It will be a compilation of stories that have not been told before.”
The filmmaker said the Amathole Mountains and the Great Kei River would be integral to the story.
“Christian missionaries were central to the past and history of the Eastern Cape. The first missionary station in Mount Coke played a significant role in establishing Christianity in South Africa. It is important that this story be told in the Eastern Cape.
“The movie will be produced in this region, but for the Hollywood market to embrace,” he continued.
Next Media Film Productions producer and Diamonds in the Dirt coproducer Nosabatha Nyumbeka said cast members would be drawn from the province, which would give the local film industry a global platform.
“Many filmmakers come to the Eastern Cape with their cast and crew members and just shoot and leave without ploughing anything back into the province.
“This film is coming at the right time in our country. It will portray historical events which are central to the development of our country today,” she said.
Bahudhanam and Nyumbeka would not divulge the movie’s budget.