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September 17, 2010

Long Street premieres at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town

sannie fox long street

Producer Florian Schattauer and lead actress Sannie Fox at the premiere of the film Long Street. Photo by Roy Barford

Long Street, a film about a recovering drug addict discovering her musical path and reconnecting with her estranged mother, premiered at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town last night. 

More than 100 people attended the premiere at the classic theatre and the vast majority seemed to really enjoy the film. Producer Florian Schattauer told Cape Town Tourism that he believes the film is a good indication of what Cape Town and South Africa have to offer the film industry.

Shot entirely in the Cape Town City Centre, Long Street will be of interest to anyone who has visited the Mother City, as well as fans of art flicks.

Director Revel Fox boldly cast his wife Roberta and daughter Sannie as the mother and daughter in the film. Both were nominated for South African Film and Television Awards for their performances, which is probably why Revel believes his decision was worth the initial criticism he copped for his decision.

Sannie, a member of the Cape Town band Machineri, plays Sia, a young woman so troubled she is even evicted from drug rehab. She returns home to live with her mother, a translator and jingle singer, but the relationship is rocky.

Adding to the family complexities, neither Sia nor her mother want anything more to do with Sia’s father, an award-winning but alcoholic writer, despite his best efforts.

Sia yearns to succeed musically, but is rejected by her former band, who see her as a liability because of her narcotic ways. To make things worse, a new love interest is held back for the same reason. While Sia endeavors to start afresh, her junkie ex-boyfriend continually plays the devil on her shoulder.

And then she meets Andiswa, a traditional African singer, played by Bhusi Mhlongo. The two strike up a friendship that holds the key to Sia’s future.

Mhlongo sadly died of breast cancer before the film was complete, but will be remembered for her performance, as well as for being a great musical ambassador for South Africa.

Revel Fox said that a number of names were suggested for the film but felt, given the musical theme, that the right one was chosen. “Long Street is the heart of Cape Town, where all the bands play,” he said.

Explaining the numerous sub-themes in the film, Fox said he wanted to make “a film about someone trying to get something back”.

Long Street doesn’t capture the lively, upbeat side of Cape Town, but that was never the director’s intention. Instead, the film highlights problems that are prevalent across the world and draws some attention to them, without being patronising. The entertainment factor comes from the music, which is simply fantastic. Sannie Fox is not only surprisingly convincing in her role, but displays her musical repertoire brilliantly.

One criticism of the film would have to be that some of the moving close-ups are a bit bumpy, as a result of hand-held camera work. Regardless, Long Street is well worth a watch.

The film opens at the Labia Theatre and other select cinemas on October 24, 2010. See the trailer below for a sneak preview.

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