South African film, "Letters of Hope" showcasing at RapidLion 2020. Picture: Supplied
South African film, "Letters of Hope" showcasing at RapidLion 2020. Picture: Supplied

RapidLion- SA International Film Festival celebrates African filmmakers

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Mar 6, 2020

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RapidLion - The South African International Film Festival, is back with a fifth edition, celebrating filmmakers from Africa and BRICS countries.

A screening of the award-winning South African film, "Letters of Hope", kicks off the festivities at the Market Theatre on Friday night. 

Directed by Vusi Africa, "Letters of Hope" tells the story of 16-year-old Jeremiah, who wants to be a policeman and can’t understand why his father, the local postman, won’t let him be one and, instead, expects him to follow in his footsteps. 

After his father’s tragic death, young Jeremiah discovers dark secrets that led to his father’s killing. He also learns that his father was operating a secret courier service that delivered letters from exile and prison. Will Jeremiah step up to take over from where his father left off – delivering letters of hope to the families of freedom fighters?

“We are very happy to have this subtle, but profound indie film open RapidLion 2020. It is one of those films by the emerging talent that only uses apartheid as a backdrop, not as the main focus, in order to explore deeper psychological battles that humans face”, says festival director, Eric Miyeni.

Expanding on the festival’s vision, Miyeni says: “We wanted a platform that is serious about promoting South African films to South Africans. And is serious about helping South African filmmakers get better by interacting with filmmakers from other territories and in the process, help improve the South African film product.”

He adds: “That's what Cannes does. That's what the Oscars do. They're essentially a promotional tool for national films, masquerading as international events. 

The Oscars are 92 years old, that takes a lot of diligence to keep that kind of thing alive that long, and they put the money behind it. So that's what we are, in a small way trying to do here. And we're hoping in time, that the country and the corporate sponsors would catch up with what this can do for the nation. Our statue is platinum-plated. 

"It's about over two kilograms heavier than the Oscar. Our whole thing was, it must be designed so that it’s beautiful enough, it's got the same sort of standing, and it's just 10 millimetres shorter than the Oscar. 

"And the only reason is that 10 millimetres shorter is because of its shape, the ancient African symbol of excellence, on top of which is the lioness. It is made by the same company that makes the Oscars, R.S. Owens & Company. So the idea was, you have the same quality or as close to it as you can.

So those things that we can afford to do, we are doing, to make the festival as big as it should be. It's about the long term as well.''

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8, Rapidlion 2020 will be showcasing women produced films and honour women in film.

Every year, RapidLion presents masterclasses by international and local experts in the film industry.

At this year’s festival, five such classes will be on offer to filmmakers and the festival-goers.

“We have for Haríolo dos Santos Aráujo from Brazil, who will focus on the beauty, relevance and mechanisms of film critiquing and why it remains important. We’ve noticed at RapidLion that the art of film critiquing is almost dead or none existence in South Africa. So, we thought it would be great to have somebody who is almost, steep deep into the tradition of proper movie critique to come and do a masterclass on how it's done, why it's still relevant and what makes good.”

"South African filmmaker Aryan Kaganof, the first guy in the world to shoot an entire feature film on a cellphone will explain why he loves working with mobile phone technology which he says, allows for artistic control of every facet of the process."

Other premiere events at RapidLion 2020 include the screening of André Odendaal’s Gat In Die Muur, Fried Barry by Ryan Kruger, and Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City.

Students and pensioners enter for free. 

Ticket are available at Webtickets for R45 for a single screening, and R155 for a day pass. 

For more information on the event, ticket sales and workshops, visit

The festival runs from March 6 till March 15 at the Market Theatre, Newtown.

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