Mr Johnson wins best film, Slabolepszy bags best actor gong

SA movie scores two international awards

Mr Johnson scores big on the global scale
Mr Johnson scores big on the global scale

A South African film that tackles marginalisation of older people by society has scored two international awards at the Global Nonviolent Film Festival.

Mr Johnson, which will premiere in SA next year, walked away with the Best Film and Best Actor awards on Monday.

The film stars Paul Slabolepszy, Jana Cilliers, Frank Rautenbach, Sisanda Henna, Graham Hopkins and Jailoshini Naidoo, among others.

Slabolepszy, 77, who walked away with the Best Actor award for his lead role, is excited about winning his first film gong.

Slabolepszy is a seasoned playwright and performer. He has worked with John Kani and written about 35 plays that include Saturday Night at the Palace, Under the Oaks, Over the Hill, Mooi Street Moves and Suddenly the Storm.

The die-hard Orlando Pirates supporter says: “It is fantastic. If it was not for Covid-19, I would have gone there myself to collect the award. I am honoured to receive this award.

“For the movie to win an international accolade is good for the country. I have been acting on stage and TV and won awards, but this one is special because it is the first film award and also to win an award at this age. I’m the same age as John Kani.

“It was great to play this character, particularly because old people are so often invisibilised. What Mr Johnson shows is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you still have energy, enthusiasm and can contribute as much as anyone else. In that sense, this is an important film. What made it more exciting for me is that my friends in New York who saw the movie said I gave a convincing performance.”

Film director William Collinson says he never imagined a film like Mr Johnson would excel internationally.

“This has been an extremely humbling experience and I am truly honoured to receive this award. I was blessed to have such an astounding cast and crew who gave their all to realise my vision for Mr Johnson. Let us hope that this film goes some way towards changing attitudes towards elderly people.”

Mr Johnson follows David Johnson (played by Slabolepszy) as he awakes from a 47-year coma at the age of 73 and has a hard time dealing with his aged body and the fact he has missed out on more than half his life.

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