BY BILLY SUTER
TWO South African acting giants, Paul Slabolepszy and Jana Cilliers, pool talents for Mr Johnson, a new local movie scheduled for its international premiere at the Garden Route International Film Festival (GRIFF) in the Cape, which runs from September 21 to October 11. In line with the international festival trend, this year’s event will go virtual.
Directed by William Collison (Dis Koue Kos, Skat, Jagveld), Mr Johnson is the fourth film from Azania Productions, the team behind the box-office hit Broken Promises Forever and the recent sleeper hit, Blessers.
“We are thrilled to be able to premiere this charming film at GRIFF,” says producer Aimee Dherman. “The virtual nature of the festival means we can showcase this film to a much wider audience than we ordinarily could.”
Mr Johnson is described as a bitter-sweet drama that examines some of the ways old people are disregarded, side-lined and invisible in society.
When David Johnson awakes from a 47-year coma at the age of 73, he has a hard time dealing with his aged body and the fact that he has missed out on more than half his life.
As he slowly steps into this strange new world, his youthful exuberance is undimmed and, with a little prodding, he tackles life and love with the energy and passion of a man half his age. However, like many other people of his age, he also has to wrestle with issues of loneliness and alienation.
“The inspiration for Mr Johnson came to me when I was going through an existential crisis a few years ago and suddenly became aware of my own mortality,” says writer-director William Collison. “What would it be like to slip into a coma, wake up in old age, and, with only a few years left, have to figure out the meaning of life”.
The film also stars Durban’s Jailoshini Naidoo (Keeping Up with the Kandasamys) as well as Frank Rautenbach (The Bang Bang Club), Sisanda Henna (Griekwastad), Graham Hopkins (Eye in the Sky), Carla Claassen, Drikus Volschenk (Dis Ek, Anna), Anthony Cole, Heike Brunner, Clayton Boyd, Marinus Gubitz (Onortodoks), and Mila Guy (Wonderlus).
Mr Johnson was made with support of the Department of Trade and Industry, National Film and Video Foundation and Indigenous Film Distribution. The film is scheduled for commercial release in 2021.
View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBJvsROujAo