Skyscrapers teetering during earth tremors, sink-holes opening in rush-hour streets … acid mine water has filled the city's underground network of disused shafts and tunnels, threatening cataclysmic consequences.

Can the Mayor and his hastily assembled team act in time to save the city from being swallowed into a gigantic sink-hole?

No, it's not a mega-buck Hollywood blockbuster we're talking about, it's Johannesburg, an ambitious new disaster movie set to start filming in August with Safta-nominated director Kalumbu Kapisa at the helm.

Kapisa, director of TV series Soul City in 2014, was nominated in the same year for a South African Film and Television Award (Safta) for Best Director and Best Writer for a Made-for-TV Movie for his work on The Wall.

'An authentic South African story with a world view'

"We are shooting the film in the heart of the city CBD," Kapisa said in an interview this week. "This means viewers can experience the real Johannesburg on their screens. It is an authentic South African story with a world view, and most South Africans will relate."

Produced by Kwacha Media, Johannesburg is set to be a home-grown visual spectacle, with visual effects company Refinery providing the computer-generated imagery (CGI) and Kwacha Media and Factors of 7 handling post-production.

"Through the years we have gained enough skills, and we are equipped with resources to be able to produce world-class productions," Kapisa said. "The visual spectacle in the film will be evidence to this."

A powerful cast has been assembled, led by Los Angeles-based South African actress Bubu Mazibuko (Gaz'lam, Catch a Fire, Jerusalema), Desmond Dube (The Long Run, Hotel Rwanda, Hopeville) and Nigerian-born Fabian Adeoye Lojede (Man on Ground, October 1).

'Expect amazing performances, spectacular scenery'

"Viewers can expect amazing performances from talented actors and visually spectacular scenery showcasing Johannesburg in a different light," Kapisa said, adding that it was the city that formed the primary inspiration for Johannesburg.

"I have always been fascinated by Johannesburg - its energy, people and architecture design."

Shooting will focus on downtown Joburg and include a number of landmark locations, including Ponte City, the Nelson Mandela Bridge, the Joburg Metropolitan Centre, Lilian Ngoyi Street and the Noord Street taxi rank.

The film attracted the interest from several distributors for East and West Africa and North America at a successful pitch conference at film and TV market Discop Johannesburg 2015, and has since received funding from the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).   

"The GFC is on board with us and will have a critical role in helping out with funding and securing permits with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department for shooting in the city," Kapisa said. Barloworld will also be coming on board to supply heavy-duty equipment for the film.

Kwacha Media is aiming for a late 2017 release.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission