‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ actor Vuyo Dabula. Picture: Supplied

The blockbuster success of Marvel's ‘Black Panther’ has highlighted the global need for black heroes.

If there was any doubt that this is what audiences are demanding, the box office figures make it clear: ‘Black Panther’ surpassed $100 million in its second weekend in US theatres, becoming only the fourth movie to achieve this feat.

It’s also bringing in plenty attendances to cinema complexes in South Africa, proving that audiences are keen to see more of the people of Wakanda on the big screen. 

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 says, “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.”

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.

“With all the buzz around this particular African film, we are incredibly excited about releasing ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’, says writer Sean Drummond. “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 breaks stereotypes and features powerful black heroes against the backdrop of a stunning African landscape.” added director Michael Matthews.

The cast includes Hamilton Dhlamini, Zethu Dlomo, Kenneth Nkosi, Mduduzi Mabaso, Aubrey Poolo, Lizwi Vilakazi, Warren Masemola, Dean Fourie, Anthony Oseyemi, Brendon Daniels and Jerry Mofokeng. Cast by acclaimed casting director Moonyeenn Lee, the film also features people from local Eastern Cape communities in supporting roles, and introduces to the big screen Toka Mtabane, Vuyo Novokoza, Ntsika Tiyo, Sibusiso Bottoman, Abongile Sithole, and Qhawe Soroshi.

‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ was awarded Best South African Film in Development at the Durban FilmMart’s finance forum in 2013. It was produced by Drummond and Matthews’ Be Phat Motel Film Company and Yaron Schwartzman and Asger Hussain of Game 7 Films, in association with Stage 5 Films and Above the Clouds. Schwartzman and Hussain’s previous credits include TIFF competition title ‘The Paperboy’, starring Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey, as well as TIFF 2009 Audience Award winner, ‘Precious’.  ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ 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 film opens in cinemas nationwide on 6 April.