South African actors will be soon working beside Samuel L Jackson when the Hollywood star begins principal photography for the live action adaptation of Yasuomi Umetsu’s hit anime movie Kite, to be shot on location in Johannesburg.


South African producer Anant Singh announced on Monday that Jackson will join India Eisley and Australian actor Callan McAuliffe in the cast for the remake of the Japanese cult classic. Singh and LA-based Distant Horizon’s Brian Cox will produce the film, alongside co-producers Moises Cosio and Alberto Muffelmann of Detalle Films, with Johannesburg-born Ralph Ziman taking over helming duties after the death of David R Ellis, the previous director, in early January.

“The zest and enthusiasm David Ellis had for this project led to my commitment to do it,” said Jackson. “That same commitment to David leads me to fulfil my obligation to see his dedication fulfilled.”

Pre-production has already begun in Johannesburg and the film will begin principal photography in February. Casting is currently underway with the producers looking for local South African actors to fill most of the numerous, vivid roles in the picture.

“Sam has been a friend for over 25 years and we served on the board of Artists for a Free South Africa together,” said Singh. “I am delighted to finally be working with him, especially in South Africa. India is extremely talented and perfect for the role and we are also pleased to be shooting Kite in Johannesburg which offers locations that are ideal for the film.”

Kite is a character-driven action film that charts the story of Sawa, portrayed by India Eisley, a young woman living in a failed state, post-financial collapse, where the corrupt security force profits on the trafficking of young women. When her father, a cop, is killed, Sawa vows to track the murderer down with the help of her father’s ex-partner Karl Aker, as played by Samuel L Jackson.

Jackson, who holds the record for the biggest box-office grosses worldwide, has received stellar acclaim for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and won the NAACP Image Award on Friday night for Best Supporting Actor. Virtually unrecognizable in Django Unchained, Jackson portrays the controversial house slave, Stephen, a role not to be forgotten.

Among Jackson’s long list of remarkable performances are Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction, The Long Kiss Goodnight, A Time to Kill, and Star Wars Episodes II and III. He is represented by ICM Partners and Anonymous Content.

Ziman, best known for the gritty Jerusalema, also directed the critically acclaimed thriller Hearts and Minds, as well as The Zookeeper, which found success at a string of international film festivals.

India Eisley is the daughter of the acclaimed Argentinian actress Olivia Hussey who became famous for her role as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Academy Award-winning 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet. India came to attention for her recurring role on Secret Life of the American Teenager. Her credits include Underworld: Awakening and the upcoming Maleficent. She is represented by ICM and Justice & Ponder.

Callan McAuliffe, who stars in The Great Gatsby and Underground: The Julian Assange Story, made history this year as the youngest winner of the GQ Men of the Year Award for his work in the performing arts in 2012.

Kite was cast by Barbara Stordahl and Angela Terry of Stordahl/Terry.

Yasuomi Umetsu is a Japanese writer, director, character designer and animator most famous for his directorial debut and cult classic A Kite. After years honing his craft at Toei Animation and Madhouse, Umetsu wrote and directed this groundbreaking film in 1998. With its controversial combination of hard action and vivid 2D animation, the anime became one of the most talked-about films in the new international market.

Umetsu went on to direct the TV series Mezzo, a humorous teen killer saga, and the long-awaited sequel Kite Liberator, which combined teen assassins with space monsters.