South African producer premieres new film at Venice festival

7 September 2015

Anant Singh, the South African film producer, has teamed up with Canadian producer Robert Lantos, famous for his collaborations with auteur David Cronenberg, to produce a new film by acclaimed art house director Atom Egoyan.

Remember is a contemporary drama about revenge and road trips, featuring an impressive cast of Hollywood legends and popular character actors. The film will be officially entered for competition at the Venice International Film Festival this month, as well as the Toronto Film Festival. Following the festivals, it will released on the North American art house circuit and later internationally, including an early 2016 release in South Africa.

The film features a remarkable lead performance by Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music and the Oscar winning Beginners) with an incredible supporting cast that includes fellow Oscar winner Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Swiss actor Bruno Ganz (Downfall) and Dean Norris from TV’s Breaking Bad.

It tells the story of Zev (Plummer) as he discovers the Nazi guard who murdered his family during World War 2, living in the US under an assumed identity. Determined to find the man and deliver due justice, Zev must embark on a momentous cross-continent road-trip filled with interesting characters and surprising consequences.

Singh says the performances by Plummer and Landau are what make the film so extraordinary, “coupled with the thrillingly dramatic storyline, (Remember) is a gripping film. (and we, the producers of the film) are confident that this will make the film a serious awards contender”.

Director Egoyan, whose oeuvre explores themes of alienation and isolation in idiosyncratic but convincing tones, gained praise and recognition for his film The Sweet Hereafter in 1997. He went on to helm an impressive collection of modern cult and art house classics.

Lantos has produced some of Canada’s biggest films, including Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and eXistenZ, as well as 2010’s festival favourite Barney’s Version, starring Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman.

Singh is best known in South Africa for his ground-breaking work for the local film industry over the last 25 years. He was behind such box-office hits as Leon Schuster’s Mr Bones movies – South Africa’s highest grossing South African film series of all time – as well as critically acclaimed and award-winning showcases of South African stories, including Yesterday, Sarafina, Cry the Beloved Country and Long Walk To Freedom, starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela.

His production company, Videovision Entertainment, is one of the leading media and entertainment bodies in Africa. With Videovision, Singh was instrumental in setting up Cape Town Film Studios in 2010. Offering state-of-the art equipment and technology, as well as over 60 hectares of film studios and associated facilities, Cape Town Film Studios has helped South Africa become a leading shooting location for local and international productions, including this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

This is the first time Lantos and Singh have worked together on a production, despite being long-time contemporaries. Remember offers the opportunity for the two seasoned film business magnates to use their skills and knowledge to not only finance and market the film, but also to help find its direction. “It is wonderful to have a South African-Canadian collaboration on a project as illustrious as this. It is highly exciting for us (in light of the film being selected for) two of the world’s most prestigious film festivals,” Singh says.

And for South African film, this is not the only project getting lots of international festival buzz in 2015. Also screening for competition in Venice is Endless River, by award-winning director Oliver Hermanus (Skoonheid and Shirley Adams).

A 20-strong delegation of emerging filmmakers accompanied by Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mzandile Masina will visit the Toronto Film Festival this year. The group intends to give the South African film industry more exposure on a world stage and network with some of the biggest names in film.

SAinfo reporter