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UJ’s experimental theatre film Skeletons premieres at DIFF 2022


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UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), is proud to announce the premiere of Skeletons, directed by Jade Bowers at the Durban International Film Festival 2022 taking place from 21-30 July 2022. Skeletons will premier on 28 July 2022 at the Suncoast Cinema, Durban.

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.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.

About Noah’s Cheese Farm

Noah’s Cheese is a boutique cheesery situated on the farm Node, ten kilometres from the popular tourist town Clarens in the Eastern Free State. The business started from humble beginnings in 2012 when the founder, Marietjie Crowther, received a cow from her father as a birthday present. With twenty liters of milk a day, she started making mozzarella cheese and progressed into making unique other pasta filata (“stretched curd”) cheeses. In 2015 two of her cheeses won second and third prize at the South African National Dairy Championship in the Pasta Filata category and in September 2017 Noah’s Cheese was invited by Slow Food International to participate in Cheese 2017, the world’s biggest cheese festival, Bra Italy. Noah’s Cheese. The company completed a new cheesery with an increased capacity on the farm during February 2018, after an investment by the Industrial Development Corporation.