Local film director hopes to zip awards

Award-winning film producer Samukele Khumalo-Dludla is hoping her latest film Zipped will bag another win. | SUPPLIED

Award-winning film producer Samukele Khumalo-Dludla is hoping her latest film Zipped will bag another win. | SUPPLIED

Published Apr 15, 2024


Durban — KwaZulu-Natal’s self-taught movie-maker hopes that her feature film will bring home awards at the Africa USA International Film Festival in June.

The KwaNongoma-raised filmmaker Samukele Khumalo-Dludla, 42, says she is hopeful her film Zipped, which she directed and produced, will scoop the accolades for the Best Feature Film, Best Music Score and the Best Women Film at the ceremony on June 19 in Los Angeles.

The 1-hour-39-minute film is about a young girl from a rural area whose life is “zipped” by an unknown illness (epilepsy), which makes her dream of completing school challenging, but her resilience sees her triumph.

The movie was shot in over 23 locations, including her hometown. It packs 110 cast members including eight people with disabilities and also casts familiar faces such as comedian Felix Hlophe and socialite Thah Simelane.

“I had the best cast and crew. These people carried me and the production, as everyone understood the course. One would volunteer to do more than one task if there is a need, to make sure the film came to completion.

“We worked almost every weekend and some evenings. The best moment of the film was when we created music for it. This filled my heart with joy, I love creating unique sounds and music,” said Khumalo-Dludla.

She is also a vocalist who sings African jazz and umbhaqanga music. She wrote, arranged and led the musical arrangement for the film. The film was inspired by Khumalo-Dludla’s sister, Buhle Khumalo, 33, who is epileptic and is partially speech and hearing impaired, which led to plenty of challenges and repeating matric nine times.

She would often experience epileptic episodes at school.

“I have always been inspired by her unwavering courage, as most people always felt pity for her and she had the strength of a lion. When she asked me to write a book about her life, I said let us write a visual book for the whole world to see. It was heavier when we lost both our parents within two years after Covid-19,” she said.

Khumalo-Dludla said she was also drawn by real life-changing stories, especially of women, children and people with disabilities in rural areas.

Khumalo-Dludla is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Pretoria.

She has won awards for Durban New Incomer Film Producer in the 48-hour film challenge in 2021. Since its release in 2023, her short film The Child with a Child on her Back has won at nine international film festivals including in the US, Norway and India.

The film is expected to hit our screens before the end of the year. It will be released alongside a music album of the film’s soundtrack.

Sunday Tribune