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Free State is the result of a cross-border, co-production effort among South African production company Bosbok Ses Films, Utkarsh Entertainment, and Indian-based entertainment company ParNam Entertainment. The film, written and directed by acclaimed South African director Sallas de Jager, tells the story of the forbidden love between an Indian man and a white Afrikaans woman in the Free State during apartheid in 1979. Piet de Jager, one of the film’s producers, spoke to Perdeby to shed some light on the film.
The film portrays the love of two people of different races in a period of South Africa’s history where it was against the law. When asked if this was a difficult topic to make a film about, De Jager said, “I don’t think so. In fact, it’s reality. This movie tells a human story.” Although the film is set during the apartheid period, English is mostly used throughout the movie, and subtitles are used whenever any other language is used. This was done because “in a multicultural society, we follow reality.”
The film producers involved UP in the creation process of the musical score for the film. Tuks Camerata and the University of Pretoria Symphony Orchestra provided the music for the final theme for the movie, which is “Nessun dorma”, from composer Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. This collaboration, according to De Jager, came about as a result of the production company wanting to use young, local talent for the film. Stéfan Louw, an internationally acclaimed tenor, was also part of creating the theme with the orchestra and the choir. The movie uses original music, and Grammy award-winning South African flute player Wouter Kellerman was also a part of the original recording.
De Jager believes that this movie has a universal appeal, meaning it does not have a specific demographic that it caters to. “The film affects families across the board and has a good measure of suspense in it,” he says.
The film stars Nicola Breytenbach and Andrew Govender as the leading couple in love. Other actors include acclaimed Indian actor Mangesh Desai, renowned South African actress Leleti Khumalo, and accomplished South African actor Deon Lotz, best known for his role as Kobie Coetsee in the international film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Free State has already achieved official selection for several international film festivals. The film has been shown at four Indian film festivals – the Kolhapur, Chennai, Bangalore and Sangli International Film Festivals. It was also shown at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. It is set to screen at the fifth Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt, The Garden State Film Festival in New Jersey, and the Cameroon International Film Festival. Free State is set for national release in late April 2016.