Reabetswe Moeti on making her film debut with ‘Real Estate Sisters’ and her next feature

Galaletsang Koffman as Lerato Maseko and Leera Mthethwa as Malebo Maseko in a scene from ‘Real Estate Sisters’. Picture: Supplied

Galaletsang Koffman as Lerato Maseko and Leera Mthethwa as Malebo Maseko in a scene from ‘Real Estate Sisters’. Picture: Supplied

Published May 24, 2024


In 2021, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Netflix entered into a partnership to create opportunities for emerging film-makers on the back of Covid-19’s impact on the industry.

The decision to financially back the work of individuals hungry to gain a foothold in the industry has borne fruit with six films: “Runs in the Family”, “Prime”, “Inkabi”, “Soweto Blaze”, “Smart Casuals” and “Real Estate Sisters”.

In catching the latter three releases, I was thoroughly impressed. Each film, despite the small budget, boasted a solid cast, a compelling storyline and adroit direction.

Mzansi is a hotbed of incredible talent. Fact.

And one such individual is Reabetswe Moeti, who is the director and co-writer of “Real Estate Sisters”. The film was produced by Totem Zea, which she owns with Zoe Ramushu.

I had a chat with Moeti shortly after the film debuted on Netflix and was trending on the streaming platform.

She was already in pre-production for her next film but explained how “Real Estate Sisters” materialised.

“It was a really good opportunity for a collaboration with the NFVF and Netflix, where they put out a call for emerging film-makers. At Totem Zea, myself and Zoe, we then put forth an application.

“The story, of course, already existed in my head and I had already started working on it a little bit. This particular opportunity gave me the push to develop it and submit it.”

With her mom in the property business, she tapped into that knowledge for the premise.

She added: “What I knew is that I wanted to do a film set in Pretoria, which is my hometown, that colours in the world of where I come from, where I grew up, characters that I know.”

The storyline centres on two struggling real estate agent sisters who find their lives turned upside down when they are hired to sell an exclusive mansion.

Leera Mthethwa and Galaletsang Koffman in a scene from ‘Real Estate Sisters’. Picture: Supplied

This career-making opportunity isn’t without challenges especially when they stumble across a dead body in the basement and find themselves trying to dodge law enforcement, while politics permeates their lives as well as an insufferably clingy couple looking to buy property.

The aspirational tale, helmed by Galaletsang Koffman as Lerato Maseko and Leera Mthethwa as Malebo Maseko, is underpinned by comedy and drama.

The supporting cast includes Jerry Chirindza (Ruthless), Ebenhaezer Dibakwane (Sizwe Dambuza), Marcus Mabusela (Boikie), Lerato Makhetha (Stone Segale), Sammy Mashabane (Detective Motsepe), Kgomotso Motseane (Thato Maseko), Sibongile Nojila (Mama Zee), Jude O'Donovan (Skattie), Mpiloenhle Sithebe (Rea Maseko) and Karin van der Laag (Mrs. D).

Although Moeti made her directorial debut with this film, she has earned her stripes in the industry.

A film-making graduate from Cape Town, she completed her MA in England. Afterwards, she returned to SA and opened a production company, before the current one.

She started as an intern on “Take 5” in 2007 before moving on to the film-making space with “Special Assignment”.

She added: “My first writing gig was on a show called ‘The Bantu Hour’ with Kagiso Lediga, and Hugh Masekela was there and so many of the SA talented comedians.

“I was one of three female writers in the room at the time. I sharpened my comedic pen there. I learned how to set up punchlines and how comedy works.

“From there I started working with Black Brain Pictures and a lot of the productions that they put out. My first headwriting gig was for ‘Lockdown’. Then I put out my first short film, ‘The Virgin Vegan’. I don’t think it is on Netflix anymore.”

Her other credits include “uBettina Wethu” and “Botlhale”.

‘Real Estate Sisters’ director Reabetswe Moeti. Picture: Instagram

On the casting for the film, Moeti shared: “We have an extensive casting process, we worked with Actor Spaces, who are really, really informed and dedicated to doing it right. We had a lot of industry callbacks between the actors.

We wanted to get it right. Both of them (the leads) are from Pretoria, so they understand the lingo, the culture and the context. I don’t think we could have done better. They worked out the best.”

As for women filmmakers making their mark in the industry, Moeti shared: “I think what’s important is the opportunity to diversify, to open up the industry for women and women of colour.

“It is completely necessary. It is the right thing to do. It is what must happen right now.

“To be part of that movement is really exhilarating, we have so many stories, so much talent and so much to do.

“I think in terms of the stakeholders in our industry, there is clearly an agenda to encourage that women do get contracts and can participate. I think the industry should catch up to that in other ways.

“It is a balancing act between a promotion of diversity to an accepting of that diversity.”

Meanwhile, her production company is busy shooting their next feature with Harriet Manamela in the lead.

She said: “Someone like her can go from the small screen to the big screen. Everyone loves her from TV roles, we are very excited about that and so many other talented actors. There are going to be so many surprises.”

∎“Real Estate Sisters” is streaming on Netflix.