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June 21, 2012

Cape Town film trail on the way

Walk along the streets of cinematic Cape Town and see where some of the top films of the decade, such as Safe House starring Ryan Reynolds, were filmed. Photo courtesy of warrenski

These days living in Cape Town can feel a little like residing on a film set, such has been the explosion of interest among international film producers and directors in the city’s movie location potential over the past few years.  

Many movies have been made in the city since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994 and this year alone four blockbusters, filmed in the Mother City and her surrounding hinterland in 2011, will be released around the world.

Over the past 12 months I've been stopped countless times by security guards who tell me my preferred route to a destination is now a restricted area, because some movie or commercial shoot is under way. 

One of these encounters was for the recently released multi-million rand film Safe House, starring Hollywood A-list actors Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds -- but alas there wasn't even a sniff of the stars when I was there.

Nevertheless, I can't complain because the film did a great job in showcasing Lion’s Head, Table Mountain as well as a number of streets in the city to the world. And when it comes down to it, I like the movies as much as the next guy -- as long as the next guy is a bit of a film nerd, that is.  

One of my favourite Cape Town movie scenes has Matt Damon playing South African rugby Legend François Pienaar in the memorable 2009 movie Invictus, a film about Nelson Mandela and the manner in which he used the 1995 rugby world cup to galvanise a divided nation.

In it he leads the South Africa national rugby team on early morning runs through Cape Town’s inner city suburbs as well as along its picturesque Atlantic Seaboard. 

For me the camera work captures the essence of what makes the city so appealing: the natural beauty that exists side by side with a modern metropolis.  

From a tourism perspective it would seem to make perfect sense to capitalise on the international movie industry’s growing infatuation with Cape Town.

And indeed when I contacted the Cape Film Commission I was informed by CEO Denis Lillie that plans for film tourism were in an advanced stage of development.  

“We have met with the city and I am currently in Los Angeles researching how they do it here,” he told me via email.

The word on the street is that when the Film Tourism project is up and running it will offer local and international visitors the opportunity to experience film production locations shot in and around the Western Cape.

The activities will include co-ordinated film walks or guided tours on production sets and film locations, from local townships and mountain top locations to Cape Town city sets, in a way that benefits both the film-makers and the local tourism industry. Sounds like a mutually beneficial relationship to me.

Some of the movies made in Cape Town over the past few years:

Dredd (2012 - Karl Urban, Lena Headey)  

Safe House (2012 - Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds)

Dark Tide (2012 - Halle Berry) 

Invictus (2009 - Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman)

Chronicle (2012 - Dane DeHaan)

Amelia (2009 - Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor)

24: Redemption (2008 - Kiefer Sutherland)

Cavegirl (2008 – Thora Birch)

Doomsday (2008 – Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins)

Oliver Cromwell (2008 - Dominic West)

Rendition (2007 - Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal)

Read our blog on what major hollywood stars have to say about filming in Cape Town.

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