Tsotsi

GAVIN HOOD DIRECTOR

After graduating with a degree in law in South Africa, Gavin worked briefly as an actor before heading to the US to study screenwriting and directing at the University of California in LA. Here, in 1993, he won a Diane Thomas Screenwriting Award for his first screenplay, A Reasonable Man. The script was inspired by a case of ritual murder. Judges included Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Kennedy.

After completing his studies, Gavin returned to South Africa where he got his first writing and directing work making educational dramas for the new Department of Health which was just beginning to feel the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For his work in educational television, Gavin won one Artes Award (a South African Emmy) and was nominated for another.

In 1998 Gavin made his 35mm film directing debut with a 22 minute short called The Storekeeper. The film went on to win thirteen international film festival awards including the Grand Prize at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia, which qualified the film for Academy Award consideration in 1998.

The Storekeeper paved the way for Gavin's low budget feature debut, A Reasonable Man, which he wrote, directed, co-produced (with Paul Raleigh) and starred in opposite Academy Award nominee Sir Nigel Hawthorne. At the All Africa Film Awards in 2001, Gavin won Best Actor, Best Screenwriter and Best Director. At the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, Gavin was named by Variety as one of their "Ten Directors To Watch."

In 2001, Gavin was hired to adapt and direct an epic children's African adventure story based on a novel, In Desert and Wilderness, by Polish Nobel prize-winning author, Henryk Sienkiewicz. One catch: though the film was set in Africa where Gavin grew up, it had to be made in Polish. Grabbing a chance to shoot on Super 35mm Gavin took the job, working with a Polish translator. On release, the film became the highest grossing film in Poland for the year and won Best of the Fest at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival in 2002.

In 2003 Gavin was approached by UK based producer Peter Fudakowski to write a screenplay based on the novel Tsotsi by South Africa's most acclaimed playwright, Athol Fugard. The film was shot in South Africa in late 2004 and has been selected for Official Competition in Toronto and in Edinburgh for 2005.

 

PETER FUDAKOWSKI PRODUCER

In 2003, Peter commissioned Gavin Hood to adapt Athol Fugard's only novel, Tsotsi, as a feature film. Together with his wife Henrietta Fudakowski who worked closely with Gavin as script editor, they produced TSOTSI in South Africa between 2004 and 2005 with funding from the UK Film & TV Production Company plc (of which Peter is CEO), the Industrial Development Corporation of SA, the National Film & Video Foundation of SA, and the co-production services of Paul Raleigh of Moviworld.

Peter graduated with a masters degree in Economics from Cambridge University and an MBA from The European Institute for Business Administration, INSEAD, Fontainebleau. But his first love was always for feature films. In 1979 Peter joined the First National Bank of Chicago with the thought that financing features films would be a good place to start his career as a producer. Working in the film financing department, Peter helped fund many an independent American movie over the three years with the bank.

However, disillusioned with the quality of the projects the Bank was being asked to fund, Peter left to set up his own production company with his wife Henrietta as script editor and head of development. Their company, Premiere Productions Ltd celebrated its 20th year in the film business with the production of TSOTSI. In the intervening years, Peter has written and produced many multimedia training films for the finance industry, winning numerous international prizes, and working with such talent as Jonathan Pryce, Miranda Richardson, Lindsay Duncan, Bill Paterson, and clients including Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Bank of England, Ford, The European Investment Bank, Lloyds and TSB.

Peter has acted as Executive Producer on films including THE LAST SEPTEMBER starring Maggie Smith, Fiona Shaw and Michael Gambon; TRIAL by FIRE and THE HELEN WEST crime series for ITV starring Juliet Stevenson and Amanda Burton. As CEO of The UK Film & TV Production Company plc (UKFTV), a company for which he raised capital in 2001 with sponsorship from Matrix Securities, Peter was instrumental in the making of BUGS 3D! - an IMAX film about the microcosmic life of insects. This 40 minute documentary has grossed over m worldwide to-date and is expected to continue screening around the world in Giant Screen Theatres for years to come. As a "bridge financier" and executive producer for Premiere Productions, Peter has also been instrumental in financing such features as: KEEPING MUM, starring Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith; PICCADILLY JIM starring Brenda Blethyn, Tom Wilkinson and Sam Rockwell.

 

PAUL RALEIGH PRODUCER

Paul Raleigh is the Managing Director of Moviworld in South Africa and has been involved in the production of film in South Africa for over thirty years. He has overseen and produced dozens of feature films and television series, both local and international, including over fifty episodes of "African Skies" which sold around the world.

Paul has Co-Produced and co-operated with the following North American and European Organizations: Star Edizioni Cinematograf, UK Film and TV, 7 Arts, Pandora Cinema (France), Off the Fence (Holland), Nu Image, Harmony Gold, Franklin Waterman Entertainment, Atlantis Films (Canada), Cine City Productions, Arsinio Hall Communications, Kings Road Entertainment, Columbia Tristar, Unapix Entertainment and Miramax.

Some notable productions include; Stander (A 7 Arts Production, starring Thomas Jane), The Storekeeper (winner of 13 international awards) A Reasonable Man (winner of 5 All Africa Film Awards including Best Film) The Hangman's Daughter and Texas Blood Money (A Quentin Tarantino Series of films for Miramax), Born Free (Columbia Tri-Star) and "Tsotsi".

 

ATHOL FUGARD WRITER

Tsotsi is the only novel ever written by the prolific playwright Athol Fugard. At its heart, the book is an internal psychological dialogue of the "Tsotsi"character on a journey of awakening that leads to the rediscovery of his memory and his humanity. Written in the early 1960's around the time of his first stage success, The Blood Knot, and set in the 1950's, it remained unpublished until 1980, by which time plays of Fugard's like Boesman and Lena, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and Master Harold and the Boys had become big international stage successes.

Fugard was born in Middelburg, South Africa in 1932, the son of white English and Afrikaans parents. He was brought up with English as his mother tongue but describes himself as an Afrikaner writing in English.

Educated at a Catholic school, technical college and the University of Cape Town, where his deep-rooted interest in the writings of Albert Camus began, he left university a few months shy of his final examinations in 1953, and worked as a seaman and newspaper reporter. After some acting experience he started writing plays about characters living in South Africa in the apartheid dominated culture of the day.

In 1956 he married novelist and poet Sheila Meiring and they moved to Johannesburg where Fugard worked in a "Native Commissioners' Court" as a clerk: an experience that made him acutely aware of the injustices of apartheid. Through his plays he brought to the rest of the world an understanding of the difficulties and beauty of his homeland, but his attacks on apartheid brought him into extreme conflict with the South African government. After The Blood Knot (written in 1961 and considered the first great play of its time) was produced in England, the government withdrew his passport for four years. His support in 1962 of an international boycott against the South African practice of segregating theater audiences led to further restrictions. The restrictions were relaxed somewhat in 1971, when he was allowed to travel to England to direct his play Boesman and Lena.

He has written 20 plays, the most recent of which is Exits and Entrances written and produced in Los Angeles in 2004. His work, including his seminal collaborations with black actors like John Kani and Winston Ntshona, emphasizes the absurdity of life as a condition resulting from human power structures (most frequently apartheid in South Africa) and not as the condition of life itself. 'My real territory as a dramatist is the world of secrets with their powerful effect on human behaviour and the trauma of their revelation,' says Fugard. 'They are the dynamos that generate all the significant action in my plays.'

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