joe bulletJohannesburg: A South African film from the 1970s – Joe Bullet – is making its way to the 65th Berlinale, in Berlin, Germany.

The Berlinale is one of the largest festivals in the world and is on from 5 – 15 February 2015.

Joe Bullet, which has been restored as part of Gravel Road’s Legacy Initiative, has become a festival favourite since its showing at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2014.

In 2013, Gravel Road launched an initiative to locate, digitally restore and re-release films that were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, under the old film subsidy schemes, for black audiences.

This initiative was launched with Joe Bullet.

The film tells the story of a gangster who starts sabotaging local soccer team The Eagle’s chance at a championship final – and only Joe Bullet can save the day. A fast-paced action thriller, hard-man Joe (Ken Gampu) has to take on numerous villains to rescue two soccer stars, and save the woman in his life (Abigail Kubeka).

Starring black South African actors of yester year, Gampu, Kubeka and Cocky "Two Bull" Tlholthalemaje, the film made by Louis de Witt was one of the first in the country to have a black cast. It was banned after its second showing at the Eyethu Cinema in Soweto. Although the ban was later lifted, the movie was never shown in again.

Joe Bullet was just one of many films of the time that faded from memory.

In April 2014, Joe Bullet was one of six films shown on SABC1 as part of its Mayibuye Film Festival. This was the first time television audiences had seen it.

Joe Bullet also received global recognition. It was on the programme at the Mini Retro Afrika Film Festival in Johannesburg in October; was part of the Museum of Modern Art’s International Festival of Film Preservation in New York in November (with two showings); and had two screenings at the Carthage International Film Festival in Tunsia in December.

This year, it is scheduled for two screenings in Berlin, on the opening and closing days of the festival: at 5pm on Friday 6 February at the Arsenal Cinema and at 4.30pm on Sunday 15 February at the Academy of Arts on Hanseatenweg.

In a statement released in October 2014, Gravel Road CEO Benjamin Cowley described it as an honour to be selected for such prestigious festivals.

“Special mention must go out to the incredible restoration team at Waterfront Film Studios, as well as the Gauteng Film Commission without whose support this would not have been possible. This is only the beginning for many African titles to come back from the past and getting them the recognition they deserve.”