Following its recent win for best short film, Drama category, at the Golden Bridge Istanbul Short Film Festival in Turkey, South African short film “The Deal” has been announced as the official selection entry for South Africa at the Essence Film Festival 2023.
The Essence Film Festival is the largest yearly festival in the United States of America that celebrates African American culture. The main idea behind the event is to empower and offer a platform to musicians, artists, speakers, and entrepreneurs of the African-American community. Around 500,000 people touchdown in New Orleans every year to attend this festival. The festival also conducts exhibitions and conferences and has a wellness house and a sprawling marketplace
Staring legendary South African actors including Dr. Jerry Mofokeng, Abigail Kubeka, Aubrey Poo, Napo Masheane and Matli Mohapeloa, The Deal is a film about the nuances of gender-based violence and its impact on one’s mental health.
The NFVF funded film follows the life of an 18-year-old South African girl, Thandeka, played by accomplished poet and actress Botlhale Boikanyo, who finds herself in a transactional sexual affair with a wealthy benefactor. The film delves into the thematic area of transgenerational transactional relationships otherwise widely labeled “blesser and blesse” relationships in South Africa, whilst exploring the toll often carried by young girls in pursuit of higher education. At its core, the film examines the fine line between coercion and consent.
Produced by Wandile Molebatsi, and written and directed by Play Your Part Ambassador, Paul Modjadji, The Deal is also the first film in South Africa to feature a dementia diagnosed character and present a snapshot inside her life and that of her family and care givers. Embodied by veteran actress, Abigail Kubeka, this is the first time the legendary actress is playing a character living with dementia. Veteran thespian, Abigail Kubeka, best known for her long-standing character on Generations and the Netflix series Queen Sono, says she took on the role because of its importance in bringing light to dementia awareness in South Africa, as many people consider cognitive decline as a normal part of ageing and not the ailment it is.
Executive producer for the film and Play Your Part Ambassador, Katie Mohamed remarked that, “The Deal is a powerful film that speaks to the intricacies of GBV. Its critical to also note that the film implores men to take responsibility, as it provokes necessary discussions on the topic”. Speaking of her lead role in the project Botlhale said “This character’s story is one I resonated closely with and is unfortunately a saddening reality for so many women and girls in South Africa. I hope through her story we can reflect truths, educate, and change perceptions.”
South Africa will represent the African continent alongside Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. The Music component section of the festival will be headlined by Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, Meghan the Stallion and Wizkid amongst others.