This year’s big romantic movie hit is likely to be Zulu Wedding, first supported by the Gauteng Film Commission as a short film in 2012, and now developed into a full feature with an international cast.
The film’s director and producer is Lineo Sekeleoane, CEO of the black, female-owned production company Luju Inc, based in Roodepoort, Gauteng. Once again, GFC is among the major sponsors, which include dti and the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission. Most of the movie has been shot on locations in and around Johannesburg.
The movie, written by Sekeleoane and Julie Hall, plays on the theme of a young black woman’s struggle to make up her mind between two men, one a handsome American, and one a traditional Zulu chief, culminating in a dramatic show-down at a Zulu wedding. But it’s also about her attempts to run away from her past, her family and her culture, and finally returning to them.
A beautiful and rather stubborn choreographer named Lungile, played by Nondumiso Tembe, has moved to New York, leaving behind ties to her family – her parents both died when she was a child. There she falls in love with black advertising executive Tex Wilson, played by American actor Darrin Henson, who also played in Stomp the Yard and Chocolate City.
Lungile, who calls herself Lou in the USA, then learns that her family had offered her in marriage to the son of a Zulu king to settle an ancestral debt. She meets the son, Zwelibanzi Zulu, played by Pallance Dladla, who turns out to be handsome, charming and dangerously seductive, and she is soon torn between the two of them. Other local actors with prominent roles are Bubu Mazibuko, Treasure Tshabalala and Jerry Phele. The American dance choreographer Lorcia Cooper also features in the film.
Interviewed by City Press, Henson said he found Zulu people in South Africa to be “very shy”.
"Being black myself and knowing that Africa is in my DNA, I was excited about coming here. Then I found out how much love people from here have for me because of Soul Food, in the movie and TV series formats. Everywhere I went people were hugging, kissing and taking pictures of me. People are so friendly … Hmmmm! And the food is very spicy and amazing."
Asked about the differences between shooting movies here in South Africa and in his native US, he says: "To be honest, you guys are a little bit slower than we are."