Thursday
Jun232011

PRODUCERS

ANANT SINGH

Anant Singh is recognised as South Africa's pre-eminent film producer, having produced more than 100 films since 1984. He is responsible for many of the most profound anti-apartheid films made in South Africa, among which are "Place Of Weeping," Sarafina! and Cry, the Beloved Country. Nelson Mandela called him "a producer I respect very much... a man of tremendous ability" when he granted him the film rights to his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom. Singh is set to film Long Walk to Freedom this year.

Singh is the producer of Yesterday (from director, Darrell James Roodt), which received South Africa's first Academy Award Nomination in the Best Foreign Language Picture category in 2005, the Peabody Award and an Emmy Nomination in 2006 in the "Outstanding Made For Television Movie" category.

Born and raised in Durban, Singh began his film career at age 18 when he left his studies at the University of Durban-Westville to purchase a 16mm movie rental store. From there, he moved into video distribution, forming Videovision Entertainment and then progressed into film production in 1984 with Place of Weeping, the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa.

A selection of his subsequent feature films includes: Sarafina! with Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba; The Road to Mecca, with Kathy Bates; Father Hood, with Patrick Swayze and Halle Berry; Captives, with Julia Ormond and Tim Roth; Tobe Hooper's The Mangler, with Robert Englund and based on a Stephen King short story; Cry, the Beloved Country, from Alan Paton's revered novel, with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris; Paljas (shot in Afrikaans, the first South African film to be selected for Oscar Consideration in the Best Foreign Language film category); and Red Dust, with Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, a drama focussing on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Singh's association with South Africa's Number One Boxoffice star, Leon Schuster, saw the production of the Top Three Highest Grossing South African Films of All Time, Mr Bones 2, Mr Bones 1 and Mama Jack.

Directly after the completion of Yesterday, Singh once again teamed up with director, Darrell James Roodt to produce Faith's Corner which starred Leleti Khumalo and scored by multi-award winner Philip Glass. Following this was the stylish Cape Flats gangster film, Dollars And White Pipes directed by Donovan Marsh and which won the Best Director prize at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2006.

Singh produced the hit comedies Mr Bones 2: Back From The Past, Mr Bones and Mama Jack which are among the Top Four Highest Grossing South African Films of All Time, earning more than R35 million, R33 million and R28 million respectively.

Released in 2008 and produced by Singh is More Than Just A Game, the moving docu-drama feature which tells the inspiring story of organised soccer among prisoners on Robben Island (the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were incarcerated by the apartheid regime in South Africa).  Following this were the comedy, Jozi directed by Craig Freimond (Gums & Noses) and Outrageous! which sees South Africa's top stand up comics come together in a no-holds barred, adults only stand up comedy experience.

The First Grader which was a hit at the Telluride, Toronto, London and Doha Film Festivals in 2010, tells the remarkable and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last opportunity to learn to read and goes to school for the first time, joining a class of six year olds. The film won the coveted Audience Prize in Doha.

Recently completed are the documentary features My Hunter's Heart which explores the world's oldest Shamanic culture and how it is now at the brink of extinction; and Once In A Lifetime which celebrates the magic and euphoria of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Anant Singh has also produced notable documentaries, including Countdown to Freedom, about the first democratic election in South Africa, Prisoners of Hope, about a reunion on Robben Island of 1250 of its former political prisoners led by Nelson Mandela, Hero For All which documents Nelson Mandela's farewell visit to the United States as he stepped down from the South African Presidency. Viva Madiba: A Hero For All Seasons was produced as a 90th Birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela in July 2008 and Obama: People's President, a documentary feature that explores the unique and innovative US presidential campaign mounted by Barack Obama.

In 1996, Videovision Entertainment, together with Kagiso Trust Investments successfully acquired the former SABC radio stations, Radio Oranje (OFM) and East Coast Radio. This led to the formation of the JSE-listed, Kagiso Media Limited. Singh provided strategic direction in the following capacities:

  • Chairman and board member of Eastcoast Radio
  • Board member of OFM
  • Board member / director of Kagiso Media (1997 to 2006)

Singh resigned his directorships in all radio stations and Kagiso Media in 2006. He is also Chairman of the Cape Town Film Studios which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open at the end of 2009. Singh's expertise in media and entertainment saw him being appointed to the Board of Governors for Media and Entertainment of the World Economic Forum. Singh is also a member of the Forum's Global Agenda Council. He is a former board member of the International Marketing Council Of South Africa and South African Tourism, having served two terms on both these bodies as well as the Los Angeles-based Artists For A New South Africa.

Singh is a board member of the Nelson Mandela 46664 Initiative with Richard Branson, Dave Stewart and Jim Beach and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki to the Creative Collective, the body responsible for the organization of South Africa's Ten Years Of Freedom Celebrations in 2004.

Singh is a recipient of the Crystal Award of the World Economic Forum and the Lifetime Founder Member Award of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. Both the University of Durban-Westville and the University Of Port Elizabeth have conferred honorary doctorates on him.

Singh was also nominated for the 2006 Black Businessman Of The Year Award by the influential business magazine, Black Business Quarterly.

The 2007 Palm Beach International Film Festival conferred the World Visionary Award to Singh for his contribution to world cinema and his production of socially conscious films.

The South African Film Industry honoured Anant Singh for his significant contribution to the advancement of the industry with the inaugural Golden Horn Award for Outstanding Contributor at the first South African Film and Television Awards in October 2006.

HELENA SPRING

Worldwide Head of Production, for Anant Singh's company Videovision Entertainment has produced more than sixty television projects and more than twenty feature films. Her most recent motion picture credits include The First Grader, the documentary feature My Hunter's Heart, Mr Bones 2: Back From The Past (the follow-up to Mr Bones); More Than Just A Game, the docu-drama focusing on the football league on Robben Island and Darrell James Roodt's Prey.

She also produced the Academy Award® nominated motion picture, Yesterday (2005), starring Leleti Khumalo (Sarafina!); Red Dust, the TRC courtroom drama starring Hilary Swank; the stylish Cape Flats gangster film, Dollars And White Pipes; the record-breaking box office performers Mama Jack and Mr. Bones, starring South Africa's number one boxoffice star, Leon Schuster; The Long Run starring Armin Muehler-Stahl (Shine); The Theory of Flight starring Academy Award® winning Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter; Bravo Two Zero, (as co-producer), a BBC co-production starring Sean Bean, based on Andy McNab's best-selling book of the same title.

Helena executive produced the multiple award-winning comedy drama, Get Real, a British Screen and Graphite Films co-production, which garnered the Best Picture award at the British Film Festival of Dinard in France 1998: Trophee Hitchcock D'OR, Trophee Hitchcock Audience Award, and the Trophee Hitchcock Kodak cinematography Award.

Helena also executive producer of the motion picture Waati, directed by Palme D'Or winner Souleymane Cisse; The Mangler, directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist); Katinka Heyns' Paljas, which was selected as South Africa's first official entry in the 1998 academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film Category and Darrell James Roodt's Sarafina! starring Whoopi Goldberg, which received a Christopher Award.

Helena's associate producer credits include Face, starring Ray Winstone (Nil by Mouth), directed by Antonia Bird (Priest), Darrell James Roodt's Cry, the Beloved Country, starring James Earl Jones and Richard Harris, which garnered the New York Christopher Award.