Film Movement has acquired all rights for North America to the digital restoration of Oliver Schmitz’s 1988 anti-apartheid drama Mapantsula, currently celebrating the 35th anniversary of its world premiere at that year’s Cannes festival.
The company plans a theatrical release late this year under its Film Movement Classics banner, followed by a wide release on home entertainment and digital platforms.
Mapantsula – which examines racial discrimination and resistance to the then South African regime through the story of a ‘mapantsula,’ or petty gangster, arrested by police during a demonstration – screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 1988 Cannes festival.
Although it was banned in South Africa after its first showing, it was screened around the world and received critical acclaim. It was also submitted as South Africa’s entry for the best foreign language film category at the 1989 Oscars. In 2006, it was named as the best South African Film of the Decade at the South African Film and Television Awards.
Earlier in the year, the film received a complete 4K digital restoration for both picture and sound. The original 35mm negative was scanned. The restored version was produced by Schmitz for What The Hero wants Films and Aaryan Trivedi. It had its world premiere at the Berlin festival in February, in the classics section.
Film Movement president Michael Rosenberg commented: “Delivering audiences to the sights and sounds of Soweto life during the Apartheid era, Mapantsula is a vibrant and vital film that still has great resonance today. Featuring a masterful digital restoration, we’re excited to be able share a powerful part of world cinema history with moviegoers across North America.”
What The Hero Wants Films co-CEO Trivedi added: “It feels very fitting a deal be made here in Cannes on the film’s 35th anniversary. While it premiered in Cannes, it was widely celebrated, but it was also banned by the South African apartheid regime. We are proud to partner with Film Movement for this important piece of film and history.”