South Africa - Principal Photography is underway on the motion picture "Kalushi - The Solomon Mhlanga Story" - marking the 35th anniversary of the youth's execution who has been hailed a hero in the revolutionary struggle for freedom.

South African filmmaker, Mandla Walter Dube, makes his feature directorial debut with the human drama, from a screenplay co-written by Dube and Leon Otto. Kalushi is produced by Walter Ayres (co-producer of Diana, starring Naomi Watts). Dube also serves as a producer.

The all South African cast includes Thabo Rametsi (ITV's Wild at Heart series) in the pivotal role of "Mahlangu", alongside Thabo Malema (The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, helmed by The English Patient director, Anthony Mingella), Louw Venter (Semi-Soet, and Kite - alongside Samuel L. Jackson), Marcel van Heerden (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Welile Nzuza (Vehicle 19 with Paul Walker), Shika Budhoo, and Pearl Thusi. Acclaimed poet and playwright, Dr. Gcina Mhlophe plays the role of Martha Mahlangu, and Kalushi's actual brother, Lucas Mahlangu, serves as a cultural advisor to the production.

The story follows the personal journey of Mahlangu whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 23 when he was executed by the government of the time. Despite being innocent of the killing of two civilians during an attempted escape from the police he was sentenced to death under the charge of "sharing the common purpose of the group" of activists. The fierce treatment of the youth generated extensive protests by the international community.

The project has been hailed as critically important South African story, and has received unprecedented support by the South African government, notably a personal letter of endorsement by President Jacob Zuma.

While the film is based on a true story, and celebrates a struggle hero, producer, Walter Ayres, stresses that it is not a documentary or another 'political' film out of South Africa. "It is a powerful human drama in the vein of "JFK", and "Lincoln", and we are approaching it with a commercial sensibility to deliver to a global market. The themes of hope, responsibility, and the strength of the human spirit are universal and can resonate with global audiences - as "12 Years a Slave" did." says Ayres.

Dube adds: "This is about a man accused of a crime that he did not do. He was the victim of a system determined to enforce its policy of human domination, destruction and mis-education. So it's a tragic drama of note as he is eventually executed under the common purpose doctrine. Which says you are guilty by association."

Having received the blessing from the Mahlangu family, Dube nurtured the project for more than 7 years, seeking the "right" filmmaker and the procurement of finance. "Initially I wasn't even going to direct this film as I am a cinematographer, but I battled to find anyone who could have resonance with the story." says Dube.

In the meantime, Dube managed to drum from Government at Ministerial Level and, with Ayres on board, funding was locked in with the support of the Unisa Foundation which assisted with procuring funds from the National Lottery Distribution Fund for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the (DTI) Department of Trade & Industry's Film Incentive Scheme, the Department of Arts and Culture, and the (NFVF) National Film & Video Foundation.

The production has received additional critical support at the highest level from the Gauteng Provincial Government, the Department of Correctional Services, as well as the South African Police Services (SAPS), and the South African Air Force. "Without this assistance we wouldn't have been able to proceed with making this movie, it is logistically challenging and we are working with a modest budget to make a quality picture of international standards." says Ayres.

President Zuma recently launched "The Solomon Mahlangu (Bursary) Fund" - established by the National Youth Development Fund in the Presidency dedicated to the young hero.

Kalushi is lensed by American cinematographer, Tommy (Maddox) Upshaw (Iron Man 2, as camera operator) with Chantel L. Carter in charge of Production Design, and Costume design by Ruy Filipe (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), who garnered a GeminiĀ® award for the Canadian production, Dr. Lucille.

Kalushi is shot on location in and around Pretoria and Johannesburg for 6 weeks.     

For further information contact:
Dezi Rorich
metalmoon@ion.co.za
+ 27 82 578 1456