South Africa: Script Doctor provides training in Durban and a workshop in Johannesburg


International "script doctor" Miguel Machalski will be working this week with the Durban team that developed and co-produced the award-winning feature film, Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), to develop the script of its follow-up film, Muti Dot Mobi.

Machalski is a Paris-based film script consultant who worked on Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby and the Iranian Foreign Language Oscar-winner, A Separation, as well as Best British Independent Film Award winner Billy Elliott. Machalski arrived in Durban on Monday, May 13 to work on the script of the latest film in development from longstanding Durban company Vuleka Productions, with director Madoda Ncayiyana and producer Julie Frederikse, who are co-writing the script.

Machalski's script consultancy work is supported by the eThekwini Municipality’s International Relations Office and Durban Film Office, as well as Durban's twin city of Nantes and the French city's 3Continents Film Festival. This cooperation between Durban and Nantes highlights the two cities’ relationship around filmmaking. Frederikse and Ncayiyana developed their first feature film at Produire au Sud (Producing with the South) of Nantes, which is also supporting Machalski's script work on Ncayiyana's new film. Machalski's workshop will be held at the Durban premises of Alliance Francaise.

Ncayiyana's debut film, Izulu Lami, which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival, won six international Best Feature Film awards: at the Cannes, Pan-African International Film Festival and the international film festivals of Verona, Italy; Kerala, India; Tarifa, Spain and Zanzibar, and at the African Movie Academy Awards, as well as 2nd Prize at the One World Media Awards, UK. Ncayiyana's short film, The Sky in Her Eyes, is the only South African film to win an official award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Djibril Diop Mambety Prize for Best African Short Film.

It was during Vuleka's unique casting process in 2007, supported by the Durban Film Office and the INK Area Based Management programme, that they discovered the child actors who starred in Izulu Lami and won Best Actor awards at the African Movie Academy Awards, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Tarifa African Film Festival. Tshepang Mohlomi and Sobahle Mkhabase were 13 years and 10 years old respectively when the film was shot. Mohlomi went on to win a second African Movie Academy Award for his role in Sara Blecher's Otelo Burning. He performs at music concerts in KwaZulu Natal and will showcase his vocal talent in his starring role in Muti Dot Mobi.

"The heart of Muti Dot Mobi is the world of entertainment," said director and co-writer Ncayiyana. "Tshepang plays a wannabe performer with a groundbreaking style, featuring an unusual mix of music, from African traditional and gospel to hip-hop and beatboxing. I am confident that he will deliver the powerful acting and singing performance required, as he is a rare young talent and is very serious about his career."