South African film, A Million Colours, was a huge hit on opening night
- Hollywood Black Film Festival

2011-10-28 - HOLLYWOOD - By Miki Turner
Source: Jetmag

After a one-year hiatus the Hollywood Black Film Festival returned Thursday night with an opening night feature that was so pleasantly un-Hollywood.

A Million Colours, a South African film inspired by real events was a huge hit with last night’s capacity crowd at the Los Angeles Film School. Tanya Kersey, HBFF founder and executive director, said that she was initially trying to get the Terence Howard-Jennifer Hudson flick Winnie to kick off her 11th year. But when that film became unavailable, the persistent producers of Colours convinced her to give them a shot.

And she’s glad she did.

“They sent it to me and I watched it on a Friday night,” Kersey said. “Then I watched it three more times that weekend. It was just so amazing. It made you laugh, made you cry and you rarely see this kind of love story featuring people of color on the big screen. This is the first time we’ve opened up with an international film. I think it’s time for a change and for us to show some different images.”           

Colours, which was directed and written by Peter Bishai, chronicles the rise and fall of Muntu Ndebele, who was kind of like the Gary Coleman of Soweto. At one time Ndebele, who starred in a movie called e’Lollipop opposite his White South African best friend Norman Knox (Jason Hartman), was the biggest child star in the country.

It was all good until Muntu (Wandile Molebatsi) and his girlfriend Sabela (Masello Motana) participated in the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto. Sabela was shot and seriously injured and Muntu, who had assaulted a White police officer was forced to flee the country. Thinking that Muntu had been killed Sabela entered into a loveless marriage with a Zulu chief. Muntu, unable to deal with the loss of his career as well as the love of his life; Apartheid and the betrayal of his best friend, embarked on a downward spiral of crime and drug addiction.

Ndebele, along with Bishai, Molebatsi and Hartman, flew in from South Africa to attend Thursday’s premiere. After the screening he told that watching the film is “emotionally difficult” for him because the atrocities of the past are hard to revisit.

“This really is a film about God giving me a second chance,” he said. “It’s a film about courage and strength and just finding your way back from the darkness. It’s my life and I’m thankful to still be living it.”