Skeletons at Free State Arts Festival

Skeletons at Free State Arts Festival

Oct. 7, 2022 to Oct. 8, 2022
Film Studio
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Set in the heart of the Maluti mountains, Skeletons grapples with social and political issues. This magical realism film experiment casts a spotlight on matters of land and ownership. As the stories of four multidimensional characters unfold in a space and time of absolute scarcity, and they wrestle to break free from the vicious cycle of oppression, Skeletons confronts the notions of home, belonging, and identity.

This film was created as an experiment in theatre-making conceived and created during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in a time when theatres were shut down. The script was re-written for filming and that’s where the project of creating a theatre-film hybrid began. Directed by UJ Arts & Culture Resident Director Jade Bowers; written by Head of Division Pieter Jacobs; Produced by Operations Manager; Karabo Legoabe with the talented Bonga Nkomo as Cinematographer. The work with the aim of producing several creative research papers looking at different elements of the process including writing, directing and production design.

Skeletons brings a talented cast to the screen featuring Mpho Osei-Tutu in the pivotal role of Mmutla, Wayne van Rooyen who plays the thief Vince, who is on the run dragging with him a slave, Roy, played by Jacques Blignaut and a clairvoyant enchantress, Lily, played by Carla Fonseca-Mokgata. Set in the heart of the Maluti mountains, three characters are running away from a mysterious group and end up on desolate farmland in the middle of nowhere. There they meet a mystical creature, and a power struggle ensues. This magical-realism film experiment grapples with social and political issues that casts a spotlight on matters of land and ownership. As the stories of four multi-dimensional characters unfold in a space and time of absolute scarcity, and they wrestle to break free from the vicious cycle of oppression; Skeletons confronts the notions of home, belonging and identity.

“We had a theatrical rehearsal process, creating ensemble and deep layering of character work. The performances are heightened in a way that feels normal for theatre but I think, will be slightly jarring for a film audience. This is the experiment for me as a director – can this form of hybridity read to an audience through the medium of film, but with theatrical process?” says Jade Bowers.

The film was shot in the scenic mountain town of Clarens, Free State. On a beautiful location known as Noah’s Cheese Farm, a crucial supporter who generously allowed the UJ Arts & Culture team to take over for a week to shoot Skeletons.