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Famous South African Directors


In previous posts covering Famous South Africans, we’ve covered some actors and actresses and authors. Today it’s the directors’ turn. South Africa has the 2nd oldest movie industry in the world (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post).

The 2 directors covered in this post need no introduction in South Africa. Judging by the success of movies like District 9 and Tsotsi, it’s this blogger’s opinion that we will be seeing more movies made in South Africa and an influx of Hollywood directors, producers and location scouts over the next few years. It’s my opinion that cities like Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban have been ignored for far too long by the International Movie Industry. South Africa has excellent locations for movies, not just our cities, but in the rural areas as well. The country has many national parks and other tourist attraction and has one of the world’s fastest growing tourism industries.

Gavin Hood: Born in 1963 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Gavin Hood was educated at St. Stithians College in Johannesburg. He also studied law at the University of Witwatersrand. After this he enrolled into the University of California, Los Angeles film school. He was commissioned to make several short educational dramas for the South African Department of Health. In 1998, he directed The Storekeeper, his first commercial short film. He also directed A Reasonable Man in 1999 and the Polish language film In Desert and Wilderness in 2001. Gavin Hood became well-known in South Africa for his role in the South African TV series about rugby union entitled The Game. He’s also starred in numerous movies, including King Solomon’s Mines in 2004 and Kickboxer 5: Redemption in 1995. He became the 3rd South African to feature in the popular Sci-fi series, Stargate SG-1 (Suanne Braun and Cliff Simon were the other 2), starring in an episode in 2004.

At the 2006 Academy Awards, Tsotsi (meaning “Thug”) won the award for Best Foreign Language Film, a film which was written and directed by him. The film also won 13 other awards and was nominated for 12 others. Th story for Tsotsi is based on a novel by South African writer, Athol Fugard. In 2007 Gavin Hood directed Rendition which starred Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal.

It tells the story of a CIA analyst who questions his assignment after witnessing unorthodox interrogation methods at a secret detention facility outside the US. The film won the Best Narrative Feature award at the Mill Valley Film Festival. It was also nominated for 2 Teen Choice Awards. More recently, he directed the last instalment in the X-Men movie saga entitled X-Men Origins: Wolverine earlier this year. The movie starred Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Gavin Hood truly is a talented individual and I’m sure that we will be seeing more of his works in the future.

Jamie Uys: Born in 1921 in Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa as Jacobus Johannes Uys. He directed his first film in 1951, an Afrikaans film entitled Daar Doer in die Bosveld. During the course of his life Jamie Uys directed 24 films in total. In November 1974 Beautiful People was released. The film was a documentary about plant and animal life in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Elephants, warthogs, monkeys and other animals staggering around after eating fermented marula fruit were the stars of the movie. Jamie Uys won the Hollywood Foreign Press Association award for best documentary for Beatiful People (Also known as Animals are Beautiful People) in 1974. The film also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film in 1975. Without a doubt his most famous film is The Gods Must Be Crazy which won the Grand Prix at the Festival International du Film de Comedy Vevey in 1981.

Jamie Uys wrote and direct The Gods Must Be Crazy. The film tells the story of a Sho in the Kalahari desert who encounters technology for the first time, in the shape of a Coke bottle. The Sho takes it back to his people, and they use it for many tasks. His people start to fight over it, so he decides to return it to the God where he thinks it came from. As the story progresses the audience is introduced to a school teacher assigned to a small village, a despotic revolutionary and a clumsy biologist. The Gods Must Be Crazy starred Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers and N!xau. The movie generated hype and the film right were sold to 45 countries. The Gods Must Be Crazy also spawned a sequel in 1989. Jamie Uys also made 2 films resembling the Candid Camera series of old, Funny People I & II. Jamie Uys died of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 74. He will always have a special place in the South African public’s heart.

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