Ordinary South Africans have a chance to own a stake in what promises to be SA's first hit musical film since Sarafina.

She is King is a joyous celebration of Zulu culture in a glossy contemporary setting, showing off Johannesburg as the "Broadway of Africa".

It boasts a star-studded local cast, its stunning soundtrack includes some of South Africa's best-known music, and shooting was successfully completed last year - all that's missing are the all-important finishing touches needed to make the film a success on the international market.

In order to raise funds for proper completion of the film - including shooting a title sequence, finalising the edit and outputting the film to digital cinema format - co-producers Nicola Rauch and Mpho Ramathuthu have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

"We have a commercial cinema release here in South Africa and the movie will also be on TV," Rauch says on the Indiegogo website. "But we believe that, with the proper finishing, the movie will appeal to audiences worldwide."

Celebrating African culture in a contemporary setting

She is King tells the story of a talented young woman from a remote rural village who travels to the big city of Johannesburg to become a star. When she lands a role in a musical play about Zulu Queen Mkabayi, King Shaka's aunt and one of the architects of the Zulu nation, she begins a search for her identity as a performer, a Zulu, a woman and a daughter.



To make it to opening night, however, she not only has to keep up with her more seasoned fellow performers while surviving a punishing rehearsal schedule - she also has to avoid the jealous machinations of the ageing leading lady.

Directed by Gersh Kgamedi, the film stars Khabonina Qubeka, whose big-screen debut in Dora's Peace wowed local movie lovers last year, and newcomer Gugu Zulu alongside the likes of Khanyi Mbau, Aubrey Poo, Mbuso Kgarebe, Mandisa Nduna, Sihle Mooi, Bongani Madondo, Zoe Mthiyane, Sophie Ndaba and Mike Mvelase.

And then there's the music. "One of the goals on this movie was to show off South African music," says Rauch, "and we are really lucky to have tracks from Grammy winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo (the partners on Paul Simon's Graceland album), Juluka, Brenda Fassie and a number of traditional Zulu musicians. If you enjoy world music, this movie is a must!"

Showcasing Joburg 'in all its modern beauty'

At the same time, the movie showcases Johannesburg as a vibrant, modern, Afro-politan capital. "When people talk about our city, Johannesburg, they either imagine that there are lions walking the streets or that we live in desperate slums," Rauch says. "We want to show our city in all its modern beauty. Most people will see something they never imagined."

Over three years in the making, She is King was shot on location, mostly in Johannesburg, in June and July last year. "It was a tough shoot but the pictures are great, with really engaging performances, gorgeous locations and high production value," says Rauch. "However, we need some funding to finish the film - the online, the grade and the final mix."

There are just 14 days left to contribute and become part of the story. The target is US$100 000, and packages start at just $10 (about R135), which will get you a reward perk of a "Joburg" snow-globe, and go all the way up to $10 000, which will buy you 1% ownership and profit-share in the film.

For more information, click here.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission