Junaid Ahmed
(Photo: supplied)

Tributes poured in for international award-winning writer, director and producer Junaid Ahmed, who passed away on the morning of Tuesday, 1 November at the age of 57.

Directors, producers, actors and other members of the film industry at home and abroad joined family, friends and colleagues in expressing their sadness at the loss of a filmmaker at the height of his powers.

Ahmed's most recent film, Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, was an extraordinary local box-office success in the first quarter of 2016, and expectations are high for his follow-up, Keeping up with the Kandasamys, which he was working on at the time of his death.

"We join the film fraternity in mourning the passing of award-winning filmmaker, cultural activist and pioneer Junaid Ahmed," Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Twitter, while Zama Mkosi, CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation, described Ahmed's contribution to the South African film industry as "unparalleled".

"Junaid will forever be remembered not only for his belief that it is essential that young aspirant filmmakers are given every opportunity to develop their craft, but also for his humour, sharing nature, and hard work," Mkosi said in a statement.

"His memory will live on through the tears, the laughs and the motivation he has given audiences through the films he has created over the years."

His impressive list of achievements include The Vow (director), which was sub-titled into 13 languages and broadcast across Europe; Lucky (producer), which screened at more than 80 international festivals and was nominated for a Bafta award for best short film; and More Than Just A Game (director), which was bought by Sony Pictures International for worldwide distribution and broadcast in more than 40 countries.

Hard to Get, which Ahmed co-produced with Helena Spring, was released in cinemas in August 2014, went on to win multiple international film awards, and continues to draw in audiences – Netflix announced just this week that it had acquired the film for its streaming library.

Hard to Get director Zee Ntuli, in a posting on Facebook, described Ahmed as "the rarest of men. Infinitely generous, gentle, loving and warm ... I know that when he departed, he did so without pain, guilt or regret, he did so with the knowledge that he was loved, that he mattered, and that he leaves a legacy."

The family's spokesperson, choreographer and cultural organiser Jay Pather, said in a statement: "He was an extraordinary man who touched the lives of so many. Family, friends and colleagues got Junaid's attention in equal measure and with generosity, love and passion. His passing is untimely and we have lost a dear loved one, but we believe too that this county has lost a man of drive, stature and integrity."

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission