A bold and exacting portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa, Omotoso casts the story of a young Nigerian man living in the African refugee tenements of Johannesburg who disappears against the background of animosity against immigrants flaring into violent rioting. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to elucidate the mystery.
Ade, a Nigerian-British doctor based in the UK who visits South Africa to see his estranged half-brother Femi. Upon his arrival in South Africa, Ade discovers his brother has been missing for a week. With the help of Femi's fiancée, Zodwa, Ade investigates his brother's disappearance. It is soon realised that Femi's disappearance coincides with a recent period of xenophobic violence. As the truth starts to emerge Ade discovers that Femi is dead but that no-one can account for the body. The search for the body leads Ade to the discovery of the horrific truth about his brother's death.
MAN ON GROUND, a self-financed and crowd funded feature film, is being produced on an undefined meagre budget. "It's difficult to put a figure on our budget because we are relying on the generosity of crowd funding," notes Rosie Motene, one of the producers of the film. "We will have to keep appealing for donations until the project is completed."
A film by Akin Omotoso
Country: South Africa Year: 2011 Language: English, Yoruba, Sotho, Zulu Runtime: 90 minutes Format: HDCAM Rating: 14A
PROGRAMMER'S NOTE (TIFF 2011, Toronto) In May of 2008, in the informal settlement of the East Rand near Johannesburg, Mozambican immigrant Ernesto Nhamuave was burned alive while bystanders laughed. The violence eventually quieted down, but its root causes have yet to be addressed seriously; tension is still tangible. The event inspired director Akin Omotoso to write Man On Ground, and the resulting film is not merely the work of a talented and socially engaged filmmaker bearing witness - it is, in Omotoso's own words, "a strong appeal for healing."
Ade (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) and Femi (Fabian Adeoye Lojede) are expatriate Nigerian brothers. Ade is a successful banker in London, while Femi, once a political dissident in his home country, has had to escape to South Africa, live in refugee tenements and work menial jobs. The brothers have not only been physically estranged, their relationship is riddled with unspoken betrayal, guilt and scorn, which they have carried since the early days of their youth.
During a short visit to Johannesburg, Ade discovers that his brother has been missing for a week. He sets out to investigate Femi's mysterious disappearance, reconstructing the pieces of his everyday life and the cruel hardships he endured just to survive. A riot erupts while Ade is visiting Femi's former boss (Fana Mokoena) in one of the townships. Ade is forced to take shelter with the employer. The mounting violence outside seeps into their exchanges and, eventually, prompts an explosion of revelation.
Structured like a thriller, Man On Ground is a rare descent into the immigrant underworld of Africa's urban centres, as well as a timely and unflinching indictment of the rise of xenophobia in South Africa. Omotoso's finely crafted low-budget indie was shot on location with vérité grit. It is a tightly knit team's labour of love, beginning with Kae-Kazim, whose exacting performance amplifies Ade's personal drama to engrossing metaphorical dimensions.
Rasha Salti (TIFF 2011, Toronto)
Femi e Ade sono due fratelli nigeriani espatriati. Ade vive a Londra ed é un banchiere di successo. Femi, un tempo dissidente politico in Nigeria, é scappato in Sudafrica dove vive in una casa per rifugiati e svolge lavori servili. Durante una breve visita a Johannesburg, Ade scopre che Femi é sparito da una settimana. Inizia cosé a investigare, ricostruendo frammenti della vita quotidiana del fratello, fino a incontrare l'ex boss di Femi. Nel frattempo, l'episodio che segné l'adolescenza di Femi e Ade, e la loro separazione, torna ad affiorare dal passato.
Sudafrica/Nigeria - 2011
Regia: Akin Omotoso Sceneggiatura: Akin Omotoso Fotografia: Paul Michelson Montaggio: Aryan Kaganof Suono: President Kapa Musica: Amu Interpreti: Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Fana Mokoena, Fabian Adeoye Lojede Makhaola Ndebele Bubu Mazibuko Formato: Video Durata: 80 min. Versione originale: English, yoruba, sotho, zulu Produzione: T.O.M Pictures