Youth and beauty are the cornerstones of showbiz, but in the local mockumentary, To the Power of Anne, singer and actress Anne Power proves that she's still got what it takes at 50. Anne Power's blue eyes stare at you questioningly – who says 50 can't be fabulous?


It's an arresting image, from the poster of her latest movie.

The South African film To the Power of Anne, now in cinemas countrywide, is a mockumentary on the vexing issue of image and age in the entertainment industry. Discarded by the theatre community she loves when she reaches a "certain age", Power, once an A-list actress, must claw her way back into the spotlight in a world that prizes youth above all else.

Written by Robert Haynes, To the Power of Anne is his directorial feature film debut, a foray into the faux-reality genre. "The story of the film itself was really born out of necessity and frustration, as I ... feel that the South Africa entertainment industry is obsessed with youth," says Haynes.

The narrative follows the story of actress Power, playing herself, as she takes on the industry and auditions for the lead in a new theatrical production, Women of a Certain Age. Her efforts are recorded moment by moment by a reality television crew, which questions the superficiality of an increasingly image-driven entertainment industry.

Haynes and Power each have a personal connection to the film. "I was an A-list celebrity in the 1980s and '90s," Power says. "I was married to Bill Flynn, who was famous and much-loved. I starred in feature films, performed cabaret and appeared on stage. I was the darling of the entertainment world. Then I turned 50 and it all stopped."

She says she was relegated to the D-list and "literally had to sing for my supper. But I've refused to lose hope, and that's what the film is all about."

It is a strong statement against ageism. "The film highlights the harshness of the world of show business and also how important it is never to lose hope," explains Haynes.

He gets this message across using comedy. It is "awkward and irreverent ... a semi-improvised comedy based loosely on Anne's life and personality as a star". "It's also designed to poke a bit of fun at her as she frequently talks to the camera about her travails."

The soundtrack is an integral part of the story-tellling, using classics by popular actresses of the screen and stage from the past 60 years. "The tracks have been re-worked and are relevant to what is taking place on screen," says Haynes.

They suit Power's dynamic voice and pay homage to her work on the cabaret circuit, and include Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) which was sung by Doris Day in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much; If You Go Away, which has been sung by greats like Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand; The Rose, which was first performed by Bette Midler in 1979 and then by Elaine Page in 1984; Olivia Newton-John's Physical, released in 1981; and Michael Sembello's synthpop hit She's a Maniac, from the 1983 hit film Flashdance.

To the Power of Anne, released by Indigenous Film Distribution, is now on at selected cinemas.