Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Africa-AICN: Clando; Fat Albert; Hannibal, the other one; Die Another Day; plus much more

Father Geek here just in from dealing with a repair guy on the ol' Geekmobile "Kirby". Man if it isn't one thing its another we just had Geek Headquarters re-roofed yesterday (that was a trip), now the car quits annnnnnnnnd we have to get to our press screening of SIGNS in a couple of hours on the other side of town, ouch! Well, at least OUR head nurse hasn't defected like SOTHA's. Damn, Nurse Hollis was just tooooooo cute in that pure white spandex and leather uniform of her's...

DR.SOTHA here for another edition of Africa-AICN. As you will recall last week Nurse Hollis went MIA in South Korea teaming up with the eel dragon in a wicked turn of fate. Instead of slaying the radioactive animal, Hollis has joined it under the sewers of South Korea, forming her own underground regime where death and ‘horror’ are the order of the day.

What happened to the clean-cut girl in suspenders and nurse hat that I knew so fondly? Well I have sent out Nurse Paige Marshall to execute Hollis with ‘extreme prejudice’. Former militant revolutionary turned ruthless Nurse, Paige will recruit her crew and then sail out for the Asian seas.

If you have intelligence files on Hollis send them to us at


* The Apollo Theatre, that Sleeping Beauty cinema in the centre of the Great Karoo, is pulsing with life as it prepares for its second national festival of independent South African and African films. This showcase of independent film runs from 28 September to 5 October in Victoria West, the Karoo town that has put itself on the cultural map. Once more, five awards will be made in categories of film to be judged by a panel of experts chaired by Paul Cilliers, professor of philosophy at Stellenbosch University. Other judges include Mike Dearham, head of Film Resource Unit; Lethebele Masemola-Jones, head of National Film and Video Foundation; and Darryl Accone, arts journalist and critic. A pre-selection process will result in only finalists in the five categories being screened at the festival, ensuring quality competition viewing. In addition, there will be lively! panel discussions and public debates, plus screenings of some of the best movies to have come from South African directors in the past decades. Parallel events will keep the town and festival-goers buzzing all week. Apollo's newly-formed Video Production Unit will run workshops for local youngsters to create their own one-minute movies, the best of which will also be screened at festival. Local craft will be on sale, along with Apollo memorabilia and a range of delectable indigenous food. The festival will culminate in a gala awards evening in the theatre, followed by a street party. Victoria West's own music-makers - a band called Andante, led by Neville McIntosh (who operates the town's ancient printing press and blows a mean sax) - will get your feet moving under the Karoo sky.

* Huge numbers of people from all facets of the film and commercials production industry from all over South Africa turned up to attend the Film Congress KwaZulu Natal, held in Durban on Monday and Tuesday this week. A Kodak-sponsored event, the Congress was initiated by Colin Persson, Manager - Kodak Professional Motion Imaging, to promote both Durban and the KZN region as a prime film location for local and international productions. Most encouraging was the presence of representatives from the city of Durban and from provincial government who pledged support for the Congress and the KZN Film Initiative. Overseas guests included John Parsons-Smith, MD of Kodak Entertainment Imaging (who made a presentation) and Sandra E. Taylor, Vice President & Director, Public Affairs. The participation and enthusiasm shown by so many key industry players and stakeholders ! bodes well for the success of the initiative. It was an atmosphere of "let's work together". The building of KZN as a premier film region is seen by many as being good for the country as a whole, and not as competition for the well-established film centres of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

* In response to student demand, the needs of South Africa's burgeoning film and television industry, and the extraordinary potential that film and computer-based media hold for the development of South Africa's economy, the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Humanities has established an Institute for Film and New Media.

The Institute will give intellectual and creative impetus to South Africa's emergence as a global player in the film and new media fields. It builds on the creative and intellectually rigorous programme in film studies that the Departments of Drama, Fine Art, English, History and Social Anthropology have offered in recent years. The Faculty envisages an Institute that will become the foremost centre for film and new media education in Africa. It aims to offer a world class education that emphasizes the creative aspects of the film! and new media fields, is rooted in the African context, and is grounded in the realities of industrial practice. Graduates will be equipped to play leading roles as producers, directors, screenwriters, creative innovators, and software designers - roles that are seen as essential to the success of locally driven initiatives. The Faculty envisions an Institute that will exert an impact on the film and new media industries in Africa similar to the impact film schools at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and New York University (NYU) have had on the film industry in the United States and new media-oriented schools such as the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and ZKM/Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsuhe, Germany have had on the new media industry.

* N Sync star Lance Bass is one step nearer his dream of going into space, he's signed a deal with the Russian Space Agency to become their official candidate for a trip to the International Space Station in October. NASA recently revealed the Russians had put Bass forward as part of their proposed crew - and now a spokesman for Rosaviakosmos has confirmed the singer has put pen to paper and signed an initial deal with them. The spokesman says, "Lance Bass has signed a preliminary contract, he is officially a candidate. Whether he actually flies or not is a question that will be decided in the near future." There have been concerns about Bass' health, education and ability to speak Russian, but space officials say he will be taught everything he needs to know. A spokesman for Russia's main cosmonaut training centre in Kazakhstan says, "Within a week he will begin ! training, and he should be able to cover enough ground. All he needs to know is how to put on his suit and what not to touch. We could even train a monkey to do this - in less time than that." Bass, 23, would become the third fare-paying tourist to venture into space aboard a Russian craft, after US millionaire Dennis Tito and SOUTH AFRICAN entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. (Obviously the Russian Space station only handpicks the best…not – DR.SOTHA)

* The Scorpion King has thundered to the top of the South African box office with R2 088 891 (about the price of a poodle in North America – DR.SOTHA) worth of ticket sales in its first week. This epic production has toppled the animated Great Dane, Scooby Doo, to number 2, followed by Sandra Bullock's investigations in Murder By Numbers, Blade 2 and Bend it like Beckham. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones is in danger of falling out of the top 10. It is currently at number 8 after only four weeks on release.


* Here’s Rigobert Song with another fascinating review:

Hello Readers and welcome back to another Africa cinema retrospective this time for a wonderfully performed Cameroonian film about isolation and democracy, Clando. Not only does the film appeal to several African and global issues about the misuse of ‘democracy’ but it also thrives on cinematic techniques never attempted before in African cinema. Remember to email me at with your African Film Musings.


Produced & Directed by Jean-Marie Teno – Cameroon -- 95 minutes In French with English subtitles

Clando wrestles with a dilemma facing more and more educated Africans: whether to work to change the autocratic regimes at home or seek their fortunes abroad. Clando is a call to action from one African to his fellow Africans - a heart-felt conversation we are privileged to overhear. Teno writes: "A majority of Africans are waiting, waiting for change to happen, a passivity inherited from 400 years of oppression, where things can only go from bad to worse."

Clando begins in medias res: a chaotic, disorienting, urban present where people are so busy surviving they don't have the time to confront the underlying causes of their desperation. The central character, Sobgui, a former computer programmer, has, for reasons not yet clear, been reduced to driving a "clando" or gypsy cab through Douala's anarchic streets. He is clandestine, not just because his cab is unlicensed, but because he is hiding from his own past. When a radical political group involves him in the revenge slaying of an informer, Sobgui knows it is definitely time to get out of Douala. A wealthy elder from his village provides the chance when he asks Sobgui to go to Germany to buy more cars - and to try to! locate his long-lost, prodigal son, Rigoberto.

In a series of flashbacks after he arrives in Germany, we discover that Sobgui allowed a group of pro-democracy students to use his office to duplicate an anti-government flyer. He had, however, been under surveillance and is immediately abducted by the political police and brutally tortured. Sobgui is dumped in a civil jail, which a fellow prisoner sardonically observes must be "heaven" - since the nation beyond its wall is a prison and a hell. One day, without explanation, the political police whisk a terrified Sobgui away, drop him on a busy street corner and tell him not to move until they return. As the hours pass, he realizes that they aren't coming back but that he remains their prisoner - only now his cell is all of Cameroon.

Director Jean-Marie Teno, however, suggests alternatives to Sobgui's state of powerless isolation. The informal economy in which Sobgui works, "helping his brothers out in the sun to get home," provides basic services unavailable from the government-controlled sector. Both in Douala and Cologne the members of Sobgui's clan have set up tontines, "credit unions," which support their members' entrepreneurial ventures. Even in the jail, captives and captors learn to share what they have.

In Cologne, Sobgui manages to track down his sponsor's son whose fate provides a cautionary tale for Sobgui as well. A once prosperous businessman, Rigoberto has been reduced to a penniless drunk. Sobgui tries to encourage him to return to Cameroon by telling him a parable about a hunter from a drought-stricken village who goes into the forest to find food for his family. After two weeks he has still shot no game and is so ashamed he wanders off into the forest rather than return empty-handed. But the villagers send out a search party and convince him to assume his hereditary role as chief.

Sobgui discovers another reason to return, ironically, through an affair he has with a young German human rights activist, Irène. She is impatient with the Cameroonian emigrant community's complacent waiting for change to happen at home. She tells Sobgui that if you wait to change society, society will change you first. Sobgui realizes that since his imprisonment he has felt immobilized by the "law of series:" you can know how a sequence of actions begins, but never how it will end. Sobgui has, for example, been haunted by a terrifying dream. He and some other prisoners are riding shackled in a police van driven by a psychopath. One of the prisoners has a gun but the dream always ends in indecision: should he shoot the driver, risking death in a crash, or do nothing and suffer a slow death in captivity? "T! hat metaphoric gun," director Teno comments, "is in the hands of every African."

In a sense, Sobgui completes his dream when he tells Irène that he has decided to return to Cameroon. Irène's politics demand no less; it has nothing to do with their personal affection or her nationality. For the first time, he addresses her as "comrade," and she replies, "we have to wait till you've earned that name." Sobgui answers: "I'm tired of waiting."

"The first feature film confronting the reality of the movement for democratization in francophone Africa has a rare quality among African films in that it entirely accomplishes its ambitions." --Le Monde

"Clando is a work of art on the level of artistry with Satyagit Ray's investigations of India...Acting doesn't get any better than this." --Philadelphia Forum


* The live-action Fat Albert movie that had been set to go at 20th Century Fox has been indefinitely postponed because of differences of opinion between director Forest Whitaker and creator Bill Cosby. "I think we were about to make an amazing film," Whitaker told's Roger Friedman. "We were a few weeks before production. ... But it's Mr. Cosby's life, so he has to feel comfortable." Whitaker told Friedman that he did not fully understand Cosby's objections. "I thought we were in a good place. But the final draft that we had, he didn't feel comfortable with. ... He felt maybe the characters weren't the way he totally conceived them. I was very excited about it."

* Isaiah Washington is in final negotiations to play the lead villain in Revolution Studios' untitled cop project directed by Ron Shelton. Production is scheduled to begin late next month. The project, which stars Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, combines the worlds of law enforcement and the music industry. It pairs a young cop and older cop, both of whom moonlight in other jobs who get themselves involved in a crime within the music business. Washington will play Sartain, a feared rap impresario who in the past has arranged the murder of several rappers who wanted out of their contract. He also is working in tandem with a former LAPD officer who is now the head of security for Sartain's music company. Shelton wrote the project with retired police officer-turned-screenwriter R! obert Souza. Shelton is co-producing the project with Lou Pitt. Before shooting the untitled project, Washington next stars in the Warner Bros. Pictures features "Welcome to Collinwood" and "Ghost Ship." His other credits include "Exit Wounds," "Romeo Must Die" and "Out of Sight."

* "Gladiator" scribe David Franzoni has come aboard to adapt Revolution Studios' "Hannibal," based on Ross Leckie's novel that Vin Diesel is attached to star in and produce through his One Race Prods. The project will see Diesel portray the third century B.C. Carthaginian general who rode across the Alps on an elephant to attack Rome. Revolution optioned the book earlier this month with Diesel attached to star. The studio is working with Diesel on the upcoming "XXX," for which a sequel already has been commissioned. Franzoni wrote and produced "Gladiator," which earned an Academy Award for best picture and a nomination for best original screenplay. His writing credits also include "Amistad."

* Jeff Garlin, co-star and executive producer of the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," has joined the cast of Revolution Studios' "Daddy Day Care." Additionally, Steve Zahn has come aboard to star in the film, which is being directed by Steve Carr. Production begins early next month in Los Angeles. "Day Care," written by Geoff Rodkey, is described as "Mr. Mom" meets "Big Daddy." It centers on a father (Eddie Murphy) who loses his job and turns his house into a day-care center with the help of former co-workers (Zahn and Garlin). Regina King stars as Murphy's wife, while Anjelica Huston plays a rival day-care operator. The project reunites Carr, Murphy and Zahn, all of whom worked together on "Dr. Dolittle 2."

* There's no place for P. Diddy and Ice Cube in Hollywood, according to movie star Samuel L. Jackson. The Pulp Fiction actor has blasted movie studio chiefs who give rappers leading film roles, insisting he refuses to even look at scripts for films that feature hip-hop stars. An angry Jackson says, "To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility and weight that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker - that's an aberration to me. It's not my job to lend credibility to so-and-so rapper who's just coming into the business. I know there's some young actor sitting in New York or LA who has spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft, but isn't going to get his opportunity because of some actor who's been created." Jackson singles out Will Smith as the only rapper he credits as an actor. (I can’t help but see Jackson’s point – DR.SOTHA)

* Damon Wayans has expressed concern that the black audience that underpins his My Wife and Kids and The Bernie Mac Show may divide their loyalties between the two shows if Fox follows through with its announced plans to move the Mac show to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday opposite his. Calling the move an effort to "divide and conquer," Wayans told TV critics meeting in Pasadena for the annual press tour, "It's not that I'm afraid of Bernie or of competition. ... We fought really hard to get two shows [featuring black casts] that work in primetime. Now, we're risking losing both of them." On Sunday, Mac had defended the Fox move. But Wayans said Monday, "I called him on the phone and he told me he thinks it sucks just like I do. ... He's in an awkward position, and we don't have our own network."

* Oscar winner Halle Berry feels that her role as a Bond girl in the new movie Die Another Day will help her career in the long run. While many film industry experts fear Halle will become a victim of the alleged "Bond girl curse" - after a host of sexy 007 sidekicks' movie careers dwindled after starring in the spy flicks, Halle is determined she will triumph. Halle says the flick will "keep me out there after winning an Oscar. I can assure myself I'm not going to fall into obscurity. People love James Bond. It's a big movie around the world. It's the best thing I could have done."

* Beyoncé Knowles is making her film debut in the latest Austin Powers movie on the heels of a report that two former members of her singing group, Destiny's Child, had won a settlement of their suit against group members Knowles and Kelly Rowland, Sony Music and Matthew Knowles, who is Beyoncé's father and Rowland's legal guardian as well as the group's manager. The suit, filed by LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, had claimed that the defendants had breached a previous settlement of a suit claiming breach of contract, defamation, libel and fraud. As reported by the online Electronic Urban Report, the latest suit had charged that the defendants had breached a confidentiality clause of the original settlement when a revamped Destiny's Child wrote and recorded the hit song "Survivor" last year that included the lyrics: "You thought that I'd be stressed without you / But I'm chillin' / You thought I wouldn't sell without you / Sold 9 million." Terms of t! he settlement were not disclosed.

* Tiger Woods' popularity will be tested anew tonight as he teams up with Jack Nicklaus against Sergio Garcia and Lee Trevino in the "Battle at Bighorn," an ABC-TV Sports special. The primetime, made-for-TV tournament, which takes place in Palm Desert, CA, will include an interactive element, in which viewers will be invited to predict the pros' performance on each hole (e.g. "Who do you think will have the longest drive on this hole?") and answer trivia questions (e.g. "What is Tiger Woods' first name?") online at or


Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus