First film premiered on social networks opens in cinemas

'A Lucky Man', a new film based on the real life story of legendary former South African gangster Ernie 'Lastig' Solomon, opened in cinemas on 12 April. Shot in Cape Town, the film charts Solomon's violent rise from childhood in the slums of Cape Town to one of the country's most infamous gangland bosses. It traces Ernie's quest for identity as he collides with both family and society.

Producer Mark Fyfe and director, writer and co-producer Gordon Clark have become the first filmmaking team in the world to premiere a full-length feature film exclusively on a social network prior to its general cinema opening. Since 18 February, Mxit users have been able to download the movie using the newly-launched Cinemo app. 'A Lucky Man' was broken into 18 four-minute episodes, with a new episode uploaded every weekday at 10am.

"We are keen to take advantage of every cinema platform available, especially as mobile platforms become ubiquitous, and the team behind 'A Lucky Man' were open to experimenting, which has been a real achievement," says Kuun. "More than 120 000 downloads have already take place."

Kuun says it is critically important for independent filmmakers to be knowledgeable about advancing production technologies. "Digital technologies have changed the way filmmakers produce their craft over the last few years, but now they also have to become more familiar with digital distribution. We are very proud to have partners with the team that made 'A Lucky Man' and to have been able to premiere the film on Mxit. There has been a great response to this campaign, and we are looking forward to seeing how that impacts the in-cinema opening weekend of the film."

She adds that consumers are becoming increasingly adept at using technologies readily available to them - from computer laptops to cell phones to tablets and apps. "It's important for South African filmmakers and sitributors to be comfortable with digital distribution, if we are to remain current and meet growing demands from film fans."

"A Lucky Man' is a story of intrigue and a convoluted cultural ethos based on gang structures," says Fyfe. "It details what happens in a backyard that we all know so little about. Very few people understand what plays out in the Cape Flats on a daily basis. The opportunity to release the film on Mxit has enabled us to get conversations happening around the social issues raised in the film. These chats are being used to raise awareness about drug abuse and to direct users to Mxit communities and services where they can get help should they need it."

"Today", says Fyfe, "Ernie has devoted his life to breaking the hold that gangs have over the youngsters on the Cape Flats, extremely active in keeping the peace amongst rival gangs and his life is constantly under threat as a result."

The film is written, directed and co-produced by world renowned stills photographer and commercials director Gordon Clark, who has extensive experience working on the Cape Flats and has worked with Ernie Solomon on a photographic exhibition called 'The Ernie Lastig Occurrence'.


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