Child stars Luke Doyle (Dovidl) and Misha Handley (Martin) in a scene from "The Song of Names". Picture: Supplied
Child stars Luke Doyle (Dovidl) and Misha Handley (Martin) in a scene from "The Song of Names". Picture: Supplied

Anant Singh sings the praises of 'The Song of Names'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jul 12, 2020

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With the Covid-19 infections and fatalities growing at an alarming rate, social distancing is more imperative than ever. 

As such, big screen releases have either been delayed until later this year or is being shown on streaming platforms. 

To date, movies like “Griekwastad”, “Bhai’s Cafe” and, since Friday, “The Song of Names” have been made available through DStv’s BoxOffice platform. 

Anant Singh, an executive producer on “The Song of Names”, shed light on the movie and the decision to release it on BoxOffice. 

Singh explained: “It’s been a devastating effect on the entire industry, not just in South Africa, but everywhere in the world. 

"I think we are not in a unique position from that standpoint. I think people still want to be entertained and they've migrated to the streaming services in our case BoxOffice and that in itself presents an opportunity. We toyed with the idea of waiting for release in movie theatres and then putting it out on television…”

“We felt, given the timing here of all of this, it would be better to get it out there sooner rather than later.”

Anant Singh is the executive producer of "The Song of Names". Picture: Supplied

Essentially, this is also an experiment to gauge how audiences respond to theatrical releases on the platform. 

The movie, which stars Tim Roth and Clive Owen and is directed by François Girard, has been several years in the making. 

And Singh was sold on it ever since he read the book, which was written by Norman Lebrecht.

He shared: “Look, I had read the book. A friend of mine in Canada - Robert Lantos - had optioned the book about 10 years ago and he asked me to read it. I really liked the book. He was developing a screenplay at the time and I stayed in touch with the project over the years. 

"They were trying to put the financing together so I helped structure some of that because I really wanted to help get this movie made because it was such a moving book, and then film. And we put all that together and then he got François Girard, who did ‘The Red Violin’, a film I loved also.”

Girard’s treatment of the story, which explores several facets from music, religion and family to war, is flawless. He handled the intricately-woven narrative masterfully. 

The executive producer added: “Adaptations are always so complicated. But I think when, including the view of the writer Norman Lebrecht, was that he was very happy with the way the book was adapted into the film, that was very refreshing. 

"From a personal standpoint, I felt the same way, obviously. More importantly, the film was shot in some of the locations where it was set. 

"And the music and François creative vision is what makes it so magical and special. The music  is composed by Howard Shore, who won three Oscars.”

Aside from the big names attached to the project, child actors Luke Doyle (Dovidl Rapaport) and Misha Handley (Martin Simmonds) are mesmerising in the film. Owen and Roth, play the adult versions, respectively. 

Clive Owen as Dovidl Rapaport and Tim Roth as Martin Simmonds in a scene from "The Song of Names". Picture: Supplied

“The kids were so good from a performance standpoint and they were so original,” he added, “It doesn’t happen often that everything falls into place like that.”

On the big name leads, Singh commented: “There were difficult moments there because we had other actors that committed and they fell out, etc. 

"When Tim and Clive said they wanted to do it, we felt they could do it really well. I think Clive’s body of work was a bit different… It was good for him to do a completely different type of role. I worked with Tim 15-20 years ago on a film we shot in London. He’s always so great. We were very happy to have him, too.”

Singh was also full of praise for the director. 

He revealed: “From the outset, he was the only director that this project went to and I think that was so important because his passion is exactly what you talk about. 

"That amazing rendition of performance, emotion, sensitivity is so clear. He was so attached to it and that sensitivity in telling a story like this, where the balance can so easily be lost.”

“The Song of the Names” follows a man’s search for his Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist brother, who disappeared on the night of what was to be his biggest career break. His search opens a Pandora's box of painful memories and decisions.

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