Stelio Savante. Picture: Supplied
Stelio Savante. Picture: Supplied

Stelio Savante on roping in Neil Sandilands for quirky sci-fi movie ‘Destination Marfa’

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

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Seasoned South Africans actors Stelio Savante and Neil Sandilands feature in the upcoming sci-fi movie, "Destination Marfa".

Savante doubles as a lead and co-producer alongside, Tony Todd, with Andy Stapp at the helm as the director.

The film follows the journey of four life long friends who decide to veer off the road and venture into a small West Texas town known as Marfa.

Things get interesting after they meet two strange employees at a secluded petrol station and one of them offers them a chance to look into their future. All they have to do is purchase a 25 cents token from a fortune-telling machine.

What does it say? Can they trust it?

When they entered Marfa, Texas, they realised something's off. And the peculiar incidents, such as this, confirm it.

Why is this town so odd? Why are very peculiar things happening?

The Hollywood actor took some time off his birthday celebration weekend to give us the low-down on the film.

Commenting on the film, the award-winning actor says: “Destination Marfa is a character-driven, non-linear multi-plot journey into the unknown...it leans into sci-fi and falls somewhere between 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Wings Of Desire'.

"Nothing about the world in this film is typical and there are some very rich characters that Andy has created, I think audiences are going to be surprised.”

Elaborating on his role, Savante explains: "I play Vincent, the hitchhiker. An ominous outsider with a history. He's on a mission but we're not really certain what's driving him or of his end game”

He adds, "I find a lot of me in Vincent because he's ultimately a messenger, or at least it appears that way. And he's trying to do the right thing but being pulled by forces on both sides. That dynamic hasn't always been something I've been able to chase in a character, it's different, it excited and intimidated me.”

On what drew him to the project, the Cape Town-born star quips: “I was really taken by Andy's vision in our early conversations...of what he had in mind and I'd always been fascinated by Marfa but never seen the Marfa lights which play a huge role in the film's narrative.

"There are all these eccentric, artsy little towns scattered throughout Texas and I knew it (would) be worlds within a world but all distinctive...I'm drawn to the contradictions in that. And of course, the role drew me in.”

He adds that as a producer, with a career spanning over three decades, he likes roping in other creatives in some of his projects.

“I'm a creative producer so I invited a lot of friends to join the film, including fellow South African and pal Neil Sandilands, Richard Riehle, Lisa Roumain and I loved Tracy Perez’s on-screen truth from other roles.”

On what he enjoyed most about filming this movie, the 51-year-old admits: “The journey of working with new folks like Andy who has become a good friend. Breathing life into a character that I really took to, and being on the road in some unique locations for a few weeks where my wife and daughter also came to play.”

Savante says South Africans will love this film because it has a sense of raw adventure and the unknown.

“It elicits thought reflection and discovery. Hopefully, folks wanting to see Neil and me in a film together,” he laughs.

With some of Mzansi’s exports, the likes of Nomzamo Mbatha, Trevor Noah, Thuso Mbedu flourishing on the international scene, Savante had this to say, ”Be yourself, live your own life, make your own journey and experiences.

“Don’t try and be the next someone else, there’s nothing endearing about a facade. Bring your own struggles and conflicts, that's far more interesting and that's what the industry responds to.”

Savante currently portrays a South African journalist and undercover Mossad in Universal political thriller “Infidel.”

As producer, he is bringing football film “Under The Stadium Lights” to the screen in June. The cast includes Laurence Fishburne and Milo Gibson.

Destination Marfa is set to release internationally in August 2021.

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