Isango Ensemble's Breathe Umphefumlo in Official Selection Berlin 2015


Fortissimo Films has acquired world-wide rights (outside of South Africa) to Mark Dornford-May’s highly-anticipated Breathe Umphefumlo, which will have its World Premiere as an Official Selection at the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival where it will also screen in the EFM.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Mark Dornford-May (U-CARMEN) and based on Giacomo Puccini’s internationally renowned opera, “La Bohème”, BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO transports the beloved story from 19th century Paris to the township of 21st century Khayelitsha, South Africa and follows a group of struggling artists, writers and actors surviving through wits on the margin of society. Khayelitsha has one of the world’s highest rates of tuberculosis and for this group of friends, many of their loved ones are living with the realities of the disease. For them, “La Bohème” is not a glittering piece of musical history, but a searing emotional cry for international understanding and action. BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO is a musical feature, written by Dornford-May and Pauline Malefane with musical direction by Mandisi Dyantyis and includes songs in Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa.

A partnership between Advantage Entertainment and Isango Ensemble and Executive Produced by Mike Downey (SON OF MAN) and Sam Taylor (BEFORE THE RAIN) of Film and Music Entertainment, BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO marks the fourth feature film for Dornford-May, whose first feature, U-CARMEN, won the Berlin Golden Bear in 2005 and went on to become both a global critical and commercial success. His second film SON OF MAN opened Sundance’s World Cinema Competition, while UNOGUMBE played in competition at the 2014 Berlinale as well as Toronto. Theatrical release in South Africa is set for later this year, KykNET, the Afrikaans division of pay-TV operator M-Net, has acquired “Breathe.” The film is also backed by ARTE, South African rebate funding, and the HOPE Project of the University of Stellenbosch, which supports the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. ARTE has pre-acquired certain Television rights in France and Germany via local minority company Propeller Films. Fortissimo who previously handled U-CARMEN, will commence sales at the EFM.

The deal was negotiated by Fortissimo’s Managing Director, Nelleke Driessen, together with the film’s Executive Producer, Mike Downey and producer Vlokkie Gordon. On finalizing the deal, Driessen commented, “This is a film where the setting, the renowned and wonderful LA BOHEME inspired operatic songs sung in Xhosa combined with the raw emotions of the story come together in a powerful and moving portrayal of the realities of life, love and death in contemporary South Africa.

Mark Dornford May confirmed:, “BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO is our second third film in competition in Berlin – and Vlokkie, Mike and I are delighted that it will be handled globally by Fortissimo Films who did such exceptional work selling U-CARMEN all over the world.”

BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO will have its world premiere at the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival on Sunday, February 8th as an Out of Competition Berlinale Special.

Source: Press Release 29 January 2015