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Khanyi Mbau, Mmabatho Montsho and Renate Stuurman will play the three central characters in Happiness is a Four-Letter Word.

The film adaptation of Cynthia Nozizwe Jele's award-winning novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word has begun filming in and around Johannesburg.

The film, about three friends trying to find happiness while maintaining the image of success and acceptability, is being produced with part funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and forms part of the NFVF/Junaid Ahmed Productions slate of films that aim to develop key areas of black talent in the film industry.

Last year, the slate programme released Hard to Get, which won a number of awards and was selected as the opening film of the 2014 Durban International Film Festival.

Happiness is a Four-Letter Word will be produced by the Hard to Get team of Junaid Ahmed and Helena Spring, along with first-time feature film producer Bongiwe Selane, and directed by Thabang Moleya, whose accolades include Vuka and Safta awards and an Emmy nomination.

In a statement released last month, Ahmed said: "It's important for us to grow black excellence in the film industry. The fact that Happiness is a story about ambitious black women is an added and much-welcomed layer."

Spring commented: "It's wonderful for me to watch the great achievements in the South African film industry and to be part of showcasing black talent in full colour."

Selane said she was excited to be producing her first feature film with "two formidable producers, whom I consider doyens in the industry. I was a fan of Happiness is a Four-Letter Word when it was first published, and immediately knew that it is the kind of story that lends itself to screen adaptation."

The novel, which won the 2011 M-Net Literary Award in the film category, was adapted for the screen by Busisiwe Ntilintili, guided by the complex, distinctive voices of the characters developed by Nozizwe Jele.

Khanyi Mbau, Mmabatho Montsho and Renate Stuurman respectively will play the three central characters, glamorous housewife Zaza, perfectionist lawyer Nandi, and trendy art gallery owner Princess.

While all three seem to be living the new South African dream of money, success and loving partners, they will have to deal with life's unexpected changes as they struggle to find out what makes each of them truly happy and to achieve this in their own unique ways.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission