Losing Lerato shows how estranged parents use kids in their battles
“In 2017 I set 17 goals for myself to achieve and this was one of them. It is something that my daughter and I have been talking about for three and a half years and I have always wanted to do a film with her,” Modupe said.
His work with non-profit organisation Brothers For Life was also a determining factor to make the self-funded movie. He had to save and also sell his assets to raise the capital.
“There are a lot of things going wrong in society and we are not opening up and having a conversation about it. We are always looking at the final product, never looking at what causes it. Those are the things that made me want to make this film.”
The film tells a story of a successful young black man who takes matters into his own hands when he fights for the right to be with his daughter.
The law and the woman he once loved try to separate him from his child. He eventually collides with the law when he kidnaps his daughter from school and promises her a new life in a new city.
Modupe co-stars with his real life daughter, Tshimollo.
“Working with her made it much easier. From a very early age we have always had chemistry. We get along so there wouldn't be anyone else to play this role. It was her first role and she outshone all of us. I think she also surprised herself.”
Modupe, whose cast includes Don Mlangeni, Samela Tyebooi, Thato Molamu, Nolo Phiri and Mapaseka Koetle to name a few, said the message he wanted people to get from the film was not to use children to fight relationship battles.
“Whether we are together or not, a child needs a mother and father. She needs both their love. I'm hoping this will create a conversation and people will start talking instead of pointing fingers at each other.
“You will see in the film that everyone is at a loss and all they needed was to sit down and communicate.”
The reception for the film has been overwhelming, from the sold out show in eSwatini recently, to the nod from the Silicon Valley Film Festival.
“People were coming out sobbing eSwatini. Even the guys that like to act tough when watching a movie shed a tear. We were nominated in LA before the movie even came out. When we put the trailer out on social media, people were commenting about how emotional it made them comparing it to movies like The Pursuit of Happiness. It just has those elements.”
Modupe is a father to two young girls and said the gender-based violence that was plaguing the country was disgusting.
“As a father, I don't know when we moved from being comfortable with our children playing with adults to now, where even in the mall if a man even greets your child, you cringe.
"That's where we are now in society and that saddens me a lot. What is also sad is this feels like another phase we are going through as a country then we are going to forget and wait for the next problem to come without dealing with it. Government needs to step up, we need to heal. These are social ills.”
While the feedback for the movie has been positive, Modupe still feels more can be done for the local industry.
“It's another sad reality we are facing as filmmakers where international content will be put first before yours and we are judged according to how the last local film performed. So I am hoping that after this weekend movie will be opened to more cinemas.”
Losing Lerato will be available in 34 cinemas across the country from Friday.