Johannesburg - Anti-rhino poaching action movie mixes stick fighting with oriental martial arts.
Film makers have started to find creative ways of adding their voices to the fight against the rhino poaching scourge.
A new film titled Red Cargo, directed by Senzo Zindela and made in collaboration with film makers from Thailand, is currently doing the rounds at the Cannes film festival in France.
The film highlights rhino poaching and integrates Zulu stick fighting, demonstrating the similarities it has to Thailand’s Muay Thai fighting discipline. The idea was to expose the issue of rhino poaching so that more people could be part of the campaign against this scourge.
Zindela said that – as a Zulu warrior who grew up with stick fighting – he wanted to use Red Cargo to bring this cultural phenomenon to an international audience.
“Our partners from Thailand found our culture interesting and integrated it with their own fighting style. In the film, the two styles clash when a rhino poacher kills a Zulu warrior’s fiancée. The warrior retaliates and ensures that the Taiwanese poachers feel the sting of his assegai.”
This local director and film maker had been trying to produce science fiction films since 2008. For his first film, titled The Big Five, he tried to raise money in South Africa, but none of the local film funding organisations was willing to get involved. He decided to go to the US in 2011 to pitch his ideas.
“They admired my creativity in Hollywood, but asked me to raise at least 5% of the budget from my own country. I came back and approached national institutions, but none wanted to come on board. It was a failure, but I sat down and restrategised,” Zindela said.
He gave up on his idea of a high-budget feature and decided to go back home to Port Shepstone and produce low-budget films.
“I wrote and directed two films for M-Net titled The Right and Problems Are Everywhere in 2012, which starred well-known South African actors such as the late Roland Mqwebu and Andile Mxakaza.”
Part of his strategy was the initiation of the Ugu Film Festival. “The festival allowed us to invite US and Asian film makers such as Dexter David, Steven Lambert, Nonthakorn Thaweesuk and Watson Homsangpradit. These film makers attended our festival and proposed that we produce international films in the area, which led to the film The Blue Mauritius being partly set in Port Shepstone.”
“I met [film makers] from Thailand at Cannes and invited them to our festival. When they experienced our Zulu dance culture and after visiting our rural areas in Izinqoleni, they proposed that we produce a film incorporating everything they had seen. This led to the birth of a rhino poaching film that incorporates both Thai and Zulu culture.”
The film has been making waves in Asian countries and is gaining momentum in South Africa, especially among Zulu people.
As a result, the film has been all over the TV news in Asian countries, and got a mention on SABC TV stations at the beginning of this year.
Zindela sees himself making commercially viable international features in a few years and hopes the local industry will grow. The main idea behind his film is to focus on rhinos being killed off at an alarming pace. People on both sides of this issue would do well to watch this film.
Watch a news clip about the movie here: