Fruits of Labor: Oliver Hermanus and Leila Kilani Take Center-stage @ Cannes 2011

… And GFI’s native son, Alejandro Chomski, director of ASLEEP IN THE SUN, visits San Francisco

Oliver Hermanus

Two years ago, Jeremy Nathan at Dv8 directed our attention to a new talent from South Africa:  Oliver Hermanus.  According to Jeremy, Oliver was a young filmmaker with an unusual lens, and his work was certainly “going to be a surprise.”  Of course, in the world of cinema, hyperbole is common…

But he was right.  In summer 2009, Oliver’s first film about a mixed race family in Cape Town—SHIRLEY ADAMS—so profoundly caught our attention that we acquired its North American rights and, a few months later, released it as part of Global Lens 2010 with a U.S. premiere at MoMA.

A scene from Leila Kilani's ON THE PLANK

Since then, SHIRLEY ADAMS has proven to be a critical favorite and cultivated an intense and deeply rooted debate about the future of African, and South African, cinema.  And in the midst of all that hoopla, we’ve gone on to support Oliver’s newest film, SKOONHEID—which we’re pleased to say had its world premiere in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes 2011 this month [and was also awarded the Queer Palm 2011 award at the Festival].

Un Certain Regard is hardly a small accomplishment for a filmmaker and for us, it’s the proverbial “icing” on a cake that spans almost 10 years of support for some of the most creative minds in the world—which includes the GFI-supported, debut feature ON THE PLANK (dir. Leila Kilani, Morocco), that also had it’s world premiere during Cannes, in Directors’ Fortnight.

So, right now, we’re a bit like proud parents.  SKOONHEID is the first-ever Afrikaans film to be featured at Cannes and is on center-stage receiving strong reviews, and ON THE PLANK was grabbed by sales-powerhouse Fortissimo not long after its premiere was announced. And we–well, we played a small but important role in the career evolution of two filmmakers…

(l-r) Hilary Lawson, GFI Marketing & Publicity Manager, Querida Carolina, Santhosh Daniel, GFI Director of Programs and Alejandro Chomski at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival

Because, as Alejandro Chomski, one of our most beloved friends and supported filmmakers, said after the recent San Francisco-screening of his film, ASLEEP IN THE SUN, “it’s what you do.”

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