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UJ’s experimental theatre film ‘Skeletons’ premieres at DIFF 2022

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), has announced the premiere of Skeletons, directed by Jade Bowers, at the 2022 Durban International Film Festival.

South African film Skeletons Jade Bowers

This film was created as an experiment in theatre-making conceived and created during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in a time when theatres were shut down. The script was re-written for film, giving way to a new project of creating a theatre-film hybrid.

The project is directed by UJ Arts & Culture Resident Director Jade Bowers, written by Head of Division Pieter Jacobs and produced by Operations Manager Karabo Legoabe with the talented Bonga Nkomo as Cinematographer. The team has worked with the aim of producing several creative research papers looking at different elements of the process including writing, directing and production design.

Confronting notions of home and belonging

Skeletons brings a talented cast to the screen featuring Mpho Osei-Tutu in the pivotal role of Mmutla, Wayne van Rooyen as the thief Vince, who is on the run dragging with him a slave, Roy, played by Jacques Blignaut and a clairvoyant enchantress, Lily, played by Carla Fonseca-Mokgata.

Set in the heart of the Maluti mountains, three characters are running away from a mysterious group and end up on desolate farmland in the middle of nowhere. There they meet a mystical creature, and a power struggle ensues. This magical-realism film experiment grapples with social and political issues, casting a spotlight on matters of land and ownership. As the stories of four multi-dimensional characters unfold in a space and time of absolute scarcity, and they wrestle to break free from the vicious cycle of oppression; Skeletons confronts the notions of home, belonging and identity.

‘We had a theatrical rehearsal process, creating ensemble and deep layering of character work. The performances are heightened in a way that feels normal for theatre but I think will be slightly jarring for a film audience. This is the experiment for me as a director – can this form of hybridity read to an audience through the medium of film, but with theatrical process?

Jade Bowers

The film was shot in the scenic mountain town of Clarens, Free State, on a beautiful location known as Noah’s Cheese Farm, a crucial supporter who generously allowed the UJ Arts & Culture team to take over for a week to shoot Skeletons.  

The 2022 Durban International Film Festival takes place from 21 to 30 July 2022. Skeletons will showcase on 28 July at the Suncoast Cinema, Durban. For bookings visit: Book Tickets | CineCentre.

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