Kaffir Boy - Coming to the Big Screen
Kaffir Boy - Coming to the Big Screen
Based on the book, the feature film tells the epic story of a black boy who uses tennis to escape the ghetto and horrors of Apartheid.
Based on the book, the feature film tells the epic story of a black boy who uses tennis to escape the ghetto and horrors of Apartheid. Read more
First off, I have to say I’ve been a huge fan of the book ”Kaffir Boy” ever since I read it in college. Recently I was introduced to the filmmakers who are bringing this amazing story to the screen. After learning they are filming in Alexandra, South Africa, (the actual location where the story takes place), I wanted to ensure the film was completed and at the same time put more money into this community and benefit the amazing people living in this ghetto.
When Johannes Mathabane was growing up in Alexandra, a one square mile ghetto with no running water or electricity, he faced many obstacles. Deadly gangs, brutal police raids, constant disease, relentless hunger, self doubt, hopelessness, devastating poverty and the relentless terrors of apartheid, a system of oppression Bishop Tutu described as a form of 20th century slavery.
No one believed that Johannes, a kaffir boy, could make it. How could he when his parents were illiterate, when his father was constantly in jail for the crime of living with his family, when food was a luxury, and freedom such an impossible dream he contemplated suicide? But make it he did. His mother dragged him to school bound and gagged, he taught himself to read English, his sixth language, he accidentally picked up tennis, a sport so different that white people thought he was mad and black people called him a traitor for playing it. But Johannes dared to be different. He dared to believe in impossible dreams, knowing that unless you conquer the fear of failure, unless you take risks, you will never succeed. This attitude led him into the forbidden zone of the white world, where he made unlikely friends among people apartheid had taught him to hate, to consider enemies and to someday kill. During his odyssey in this strange world Johannes met a remarkable tennis coach, and two of the game’s best ambassadors, Wimbledon champions – Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith. With their support, and his amazing courage and refusal to give up, Johannes became the best student at his school and finally escaped to freedom in America in 1978, where he graduated from college with honors and wrote Kaffir Boy, so the rest of the world could know what apartheid meant in human terms.
I have seen how the filmmakers have already changed one boy's life. I learned that Gift Maluvana who is playing Johannes Mathabane was working at an Alexandra car wash and only auditioned because it was raining so there was no work for him that day. When his family was asked how they felt about him earning the lead role of Johannes and having the opportunity to travel to America for tennis training, they said it was a miracle. The filmmakers arranged for Gift to obtain his passport and visa and recently brought him to Southern California to learn how to play tennis. He had never been out of South Africa or on a plane. He stayed with host families and spent 11 weeks training to reach the goal of being believable as a 1970’s junior champion tennis player. Gift is naturally right-handed, but needed to learn how to play left-handed for the role. If that wasn’t hard enough he had to use a period wooden racquet as well. You can meet Gift by watching this video of him learning to play tennis.
There’s no better time to make the movie than now, when the world is in crisis and searching for the inspiration of true heroes and heroines. Alexandra is filled with them. That’s no surprise. The ghetto, which is celebrating its 100th year anniversary, is the place where Nelson Mandela first lived, in a shack that still exists, when he came to Johannesburg and began his long walk to freedom. I’ve come to learn that the spirit of Ubuntu (our common humanity in Zulu), which made Mandela one of the most respected and beloved leaders in the world, lives in Alexandra and will live in this movie.
The book "Kaffir Boy" has earned numerous awards and critical acclaim. Since it was first published 25 years ago, “Kaffir Boy” continues to be recommended reading on High School and College reading lists across America. The book has been translated into numerous languages.
Critical acclaim for the book…
- “If I had to go on the street and sell it myself, I would have done it.” – Oprah Winfrey
- “A rare look inside the festering adobe shanties of Alexandra, one of South Africa’s notorious black townships. Rare because it comes…from the heart of a passionate young African who grew up there.” – Chicago Tribune
- “A modern-day Diary of Anne Frank.” – New American Library
NEED: With a minimum raise of $50,000 Kaffir Boy can be completed and all the funding will be used directly in Alexandra and for the residents of Alexandra. Every penny over $50,000.00 will be used for additional local resources, job training and work opportunity.
- Ability to hire an additional 2000 local extras for the street scenes, stadium scenes, and riot scenes, etc.
- Filming a feature-length documentary alongside the movie production that explores the work of some of Alexandra's most influential NGO’s (community centers) and its leaders, which are every day doing incredible work to keep hope alive by educating kids, combating crime and sexual abuse, taking care of orphans, the elderly and victims of HIV/AIDS, feeding the hungry and empowering women, who are Africa’s hidden strength and its salvation.
Additional days of filming impacting:
- Local crew and laborers
- Local vendors supplying food for cast and crew.
- Rental fees to rent locations such as local shacks, community centers, etc.
Filming begins in fall 2012 starring:
Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, Boss)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy, Blood Diamond)
South African actress Lerato Mvelase (Life, Above All)
Thank you very much for all your support. With a small donation you can join me and the remarkable team that will be making this historic movie based on a true story that has already inspired millions, and has the power to change the world for the better, one life at a time. The filmmakers are extremely excited to be able to invest the additional funds directly into the Alexandra community to provide opportunity to thousands of local residents. The people of Alexandra have wrapped their arms around this production, and have embraced the filmmakers’ vision to tell this important story.
Share it, spread it, and it will change your life forever and empower you to change the world.
- (30 days)