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12 Nov 2014  |   21 ICONS: Anant Singh


21 ICONS: Anant Singh

On Sunday, 9 November at 20:27 on SABC3, the acclaimed series 21 Icons South Africa will featured the fifteenth icon of its second season: Anant Singh, South Africa’s preeminent film producer with a passion for film, he is a visionary producer and a pioneer in the South African filmmaking industry.

As one of South Africa’s leading filmmakers, he’s produced more than 75 films, including the acclaimed Long Walk to Freedom, and is a true movie-making entrepreneur.

Singh says, “My view on what makes a good movie and what makes a successful movie is something that is fresh. Something that is interesting, that you can give audiences an experience that hopefully they can come out of it having enjoyed something, whether it’s commercial or artistic, either of those parameters, to give them something that is new.”

21 ICONS is a showcase for the South African spirit; a tribute to the men and women who have helped to shape our country and, indeed, our world. The series is part of an annual project which features unique narrative portraits and short films by Adrian Steirn, one of the continent’s pre-eminent photographers and filmmakers.

On his selection as an icon Steirn comments, “Anant Singh has made a valuable contribution to the South Africa film industry and he is committed to preserving the history and culture of South Africa and promoting the stories of its people and heritage through visual story-telling. His work embraces South Africa’s memories and he shares the stories that have shaped our democracy with the purpose to break down cultural, racial and religious barriers in our country.”

Steirn’s portrait of Singh appears in the Sunday paper alongside the collectible poster. The beautiful portrait included in the project will be sold at a charity auction in 2015. He has nominated a charity of his choice to be the recipient of the funds.

In an intimate conversation with Steirn, Singh talks about his life as a film producer. Born and raised in Durban, Singh worked part-time in a film hire store while in high school, rewinding movies for R1 a day. His father owned an 8mm camera and as a family they used to congregate on the couch and watch home movies.

Initially an engineering student, as the only film school was for white people, his passion for the movies never waned and at 18 he took over a business, renting out films and projectors to the public.

Singh reveals how his film career expanded when he purchased a 16mm movie rental store. Withdrawing from university he turned his attention to video distribution, forming a company called Videovision Entertainment and in 1984, moved into film production with the film A Place of Weeping, directed by Darrell Roodt.

This was the start of an illustrious career and a selection of his subsequent feature films include, among others, the critically acclaimed Sarafina, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba; a film adaptation of Alan Paton’s revered novel Cry the Beloved Country; Paljas, an Afrikaans film directed by Katinka Heyns, and Yesterday, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 77th Academy Awards in 2005.

Work on Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom started while Madiba was in prison. “I was writing him to ask him about making a movie about his life. He was very modest and said, “Does anyone want to see a movie about me?” By the time Madiba’s autobiography came out he had seen Sarafina, he came to the premiere of Cry the Beloved Country and said to me, “You are the person I want to make this movie.”

Trusting Singh with his story and his journey, this huge film was a worldwide success and fortunately Mandela was able to see it come to life before he passed on.

Singh says there’s never been a time for South African film like the present. “The fact that there are incentives available from the Department of Trade and Industry as well as film studios available in South Africa, there’s the whole national video, film and video foundation that supports emerging filmmakers.”

About 21 Icons South Africa

21 ICONS South Africa is an annual collection of photographs and short films of South Africans who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their fields of endeavour. These men and women have been an inspiration through their extraordinary social contribution. It is not a definitive list and does not denote any ranking.

The short film-series documents the conversations between Steirn as the photographer and filmmaker and the icons. Each short film provides insight into both the subject and photographer's creative approach to the portrait.

Season two of 21 ICONS South Africa is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Momentum Asset Management, Nikon, Deloitte and the Department of Arts and Culture.

Season two debuted on Sunday, 3 August continuing for another 20 weeks, one of 21 short films will be screened every Sunday on SABC3 at 20:27.

On each of these Sundays, a poster of the icon’s portrait, taken by Adrian Steirn and his creative team, will be published in the City Press to form a memorable collection that everyone can own.

Media partners include SABC3, City Press (Media 24), Provantage and Mxit.


For more information, visit www.21icons.com