Local film shines on international stage

PACKING BIG PUNCHES: From left, Knuckle City lead actor, Bongile Mantsai, director- writer Jahmil Qubeka, boxer Zolani Tete, boxing manager Mlandeli Tengimfene and producer Layla Swart

Mdantsane-born film-maker Jahmil Qhubeka’s hit film Knuckle City is making big waves overseas after being recently chosen as South Africa’s entry for Best International Film at the 2020 Academy Awards.

As previously reported, the film follows the career of struggling Mdantsane boxer Dudu Nyakama who finds himself taking on the biggest boxing match of the year.

While the film will only be released in South Africa in February 2020, Knuckle City has been making the rounds at various international film festivals to much acclaim.

So what’s the next step for this local hit?

According to AAA Entertainment executive producer and head of development Pascal Schmitz, the next step is to try and secure a global distribution deal that will bring it to cinemas all over the world.

AAA Entertainment is a film and television sales and financing company and is handling Knuckle City‘s international distribution.

“It’s a film that must be seen globally and we are going to ensure that happens,” said Schmitz.

Schmitz says they will be targeting what he calls “mini-major” studios such as Sony Classics and Focus Features since these studios are known to favour independent projects.

“Most of the mini-major studios came to the screening of Knuckle City in the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. This was the film’s world premiere and it screened to much international acclaim, so we are very positive about its prospects overseas,” he said.

Schmitz compared Knuckle City to a similarly successful independent film, the 2002 Brazilian City of God, which went on to great success both critically and financially.

He said he believes Knuckle City can pull off a similar feat.


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