Con film is the real deal

2011-02-26 16:48

It was all lights, camera, action in Durban’s Umlazi township this week when Tinseltown came to visit. A new South African movie is being shot on location in kwa­Zulu-Natal.

Iqili, or The Conman, is a feature film directed by Zuko Nodada of Intersexions fame.

It is being filmed in Durban and Empangeni with a R58 million grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust (NLDT).

The brainchild of Thabani Mthembu, chief executive of the Impucuzeko Skills Development Trust, the production uses film graduates from South African tertiary institutions to fill the the various production roles, giving them real-world skills and a taste of on-the-job filmmaking.

According to Mthembu, it is the first of three such productions.

The movie tells the story of a ­silver-tongued conman, Mqabuli, who works his way into a wealthy community near Empangeni after a chance meeting in Durban with teacher Sibiya, who talks about the community’s riches.

On arrival, Mqabuli falls in love with the daughter of the local chief, the major target of the con.

Mthembu believes the three-year project can make a real difference to the lives of youngsters by giving them skills marketable in the film industry.

He said it took the NLDT four years to buy into the project, which he first pitched in 2006.

“Iqili tells people our own stories by our own people. This project will instil pride and revive our talents. In KwaZulu-Natal we have a lot of talent and are using it to tell our own stories,” he said.

So far, 50 students have been trained since last October, many of them youngsters who had never before set foot on a movie set.

Siza Mthembu (26), who studied drama at the Durban University of Technology, has been employed as a dialogue coach.

“This project is one huge opportunity that we never thought we would be offered. It is an amazing experience really,” he said.

Nodada said he was excited to be working with so many established and up-and-coming actors. Next week the crew moves north to rural areas in and around Empangeni to film village scenes.

Shooting should be wrapped up by March 19 and the movie is ­expected to be released locally and internationally later this year.

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