Director: Angus Gibson
Writer: Michèle Rowe and Angus Gibson
Director of Photography: Dewald Aukema
Editor: Catherine Myburg
Languages: This film was shot in isiZulu, seSotho, English, and isiXhosa
A second chance can change a life. For Manyisa (played by newcomer Mduduzi Mabaso), a convicted thief, a chance at redemption comes along when he is paroled and taken in by a pastor and his family. Pastor Jacob (played by Mpho Molepo), whose brother Elias died while being part of Bra Stones’ Boys, sees something of his late brother in Manyisa. Jacob’s young son S’bu sets out to befriend Manyisa, nicknaming him Sporro, after a game of soccer that sets to cast a tender bond between the convict and the youngster. Manyisa is unwittingly drawn into assisting with the church choir, and soon finds himself pulled into the closeness of the family and the congregation.
A talented mechanic, he also finds a job as a panel-beater with one of the members in Jacob’s congregation. Manyisa has a chance to make a better life for himself, but Bra Stone (played by Mbongeni Ngema) has other ideas. In debt to Bra Stone, Manyisa has to fall back on his old ways to repay him. Driven to commit a hijacking, Manyisa still doesn’t earn enough to pay off the full amount owed to Bra Stone. A robbery takes place at Manyisa’s work, a foreman is killed and the police believe its Bra Stone’s work. Manyisa disappears. One final job for Bra Stone could lead to Manyisa’s undoing. It’s no longer about redeeming himself in the eyes of others, Manyisa must now give himself the second chance.
Winston Ntshona – Isaiah
On stage since 1967, he’s played everything from presidents to gardeners. And it’s his versatility as an actor that makes him a neat fit for the role of Isaiah in the Heartlines series.
Theatre heavyweight, Winston Ntshona, plays the ‘voice of wisdom’ Isaiah, the only recurring character throughout all eight films in the Heartlines series.
The Tony award winner describes his character, “He’s the man of wisdom and he comes from all social stations. Isaiah knows life, and life knows him.”
One of South Africa’s leading actors, Ntshona gained stardom with the highly acclaimed play “The Island”, alongside Athol Fugard and John Kani. He received a Tony award for this performance. The production toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the National theatre in London. Ntshona’s body of theatrical work includes “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead”, a one man show which toured the UK and the USA. Another production, “The Death of Bessie Smith” with Janet Suzman and John Kani, as well as “The Island” was filmed for the BBC in London and CBS in the USA. Winston’s films include; Malunde, I Dreamed of Africa, Power of One, Dry White Season, Ghandi and The Wild Geese.
Mpho Joseph Molepo – The Priest, Jacob
A 32-year-old Molepo’s earliest acting experience was in the Chiro Youth movement in Pretoria and later with the Squint Artist Community Theatre in Alexandra where he acted in “Who’s Fooling Who?” He studied at the Market Theatre Laboratory where he appeared in “Papa Joe’s Shebeen”, “Bunju”, “The Story I am about to tell”, “The Virus” and “Gomorrah”. For the Market Theatre he acted in “Koze Kuze Bash” and “Theatre Sports”, which was filmed for television. Molepo is one of the leads in the Heartlines and plays Jacob, the pastor. Molepo said the whole Heartlines experience for him has taught him to understand the movie making process and has given him the opportunity to work with well-known and accomplished directors. “Angus Gibson is such a patient person to work with and it was a great honour to be part of his cast.” Molepo explains further that amongst other things; Truth, Honesty, Patience and Responsibility are the key values that he holds dear to his heart. He added that Heartlines project will contribute to a changing South Africa.
S’thandiwe Kgoroge – Thando
S’thandiwe Kgoroge play’s Thando, Jacob’s wife. Kgoroge said it had been a great experience to be part of the cast of this film. “I got involved by chance, only to find out I’m involved in something so amazing and important, I’m big on National dialogue!” she said. She is a former actress of the television soap “Generations” and also appeared in “Isidingo”. The transition from shooting a television series to a movie brought challenges. “Shooting on a single camera needs a lot of discipline, and I’ve only ever been used to shooting indoors in a studio,” she said. S’thandiwe explained that the values she held dear were humility and a sense of being God-aware. The value highlighted in the film Heartlines is Second Chances. Kgoroge added that this value was important for South Africans, “Since democracy came to us in 1994, we are at a healing stage, not just between blacks and whites, but amongst Africans on the continent.”
Mduduzi Mabaso – Jabu/Manyisa
After playing a Hutu lieutenant in Hotel Rwanda, Heartlines is the first movie in which Mabaso plays a lead role. His background has mostly been in theatre, his most recent play being “Tastes Like Strawberries.” Mabaso discovered his passion for drama at school, and has since gone on to work with theatre director Bongani Linda.
Mabaso hails from Alex and is a “township-cooked boy” just like his Heartlines character Manyisa. “The great story telling in the film will definitely have an impact on the youth, because the concept of Second Chances is an important part on how we identify ourselves as South Africans,” he added.
Obed Baloyi – Captain Hlatswayo
Baloyi was born in 1970 and started acting in 1987 while still in school. In 1996 he formed Mangava Drama group and wrote the play Ga Mchangani which was staged at the Market Theatre Laboratory 7th Community Festival. His play went on to the Zwakala Festival and won a Main Stream at the Market Theatre. In 1999, “Via Soweto” was staged at the Barney Simon Young Directors Festival. Since then Baloyi has focused on television work and his work includes“Dube on Monday, Emzini Wezintshizwa and Yizo Yizo III.
He said the whole Heartlines experience had taken him as an actor to a new level. Not only has he gained more experience, but the story telling in Heartlines has impacted on him as a person. “Living a good and peaceful life is the key element I value dearest,” Baloyi said. “A project like this is fantastic, because it’s home brewed and local South African actors have been put on the map of movie making. This project will unite South Africans and it will teach South Africans to be more tolerant,” he added.
Locations and further information:
The film, Heartlines, first called Grace, was the pilot episode of the series, written by the series Head writer, Michele Rowe. The feature length version of the script was revised by Catherine Muller and Angus Gibson in late 2005/ early 2006. The film was shot in various locations, most in the township of Alexandra, the suburbs of Orchards and Parkview and Moderbee Correctional Facility. In Alexandra, the production was assisted by residents of the township, who acted as extras (all cast through Lihle Casting Agency based in Alexandra), as did a group of in-mates at the Moderbee facility. The majority of actors come from Alexandra: Mpho Molepo, who plays ‘Jacob’, and Mduduzi Mabaso, who plays ‘Jabulani’, both started off their acting careers in theatre groups in Alexandra; the supporting roles held by Bongani, who plays ‘Zweli’ and Glen, who plays a thief in the prison, are also from Alex Township. The film also features music sung by a collective of choristers, from the Alex Youth Choir, the Adult choir and members of a local Anglican congregation. The film boasts the exceptional Television appearance of Mbongeni Ngema, playwright of Sarafina! fame. On filming, the production was joined by cinematographer, Dewald Aukema, who shot the first series of the award-winning and widely popular youth drama series Yizo Yizo. Also notable are Nadine Prigge, the production make-up artist and Nadia Kruger, wardrobe mistress, who worked on the award winning Tsotsi.
Leanne Liebenberg was assisted by two stunt-men, Lucky Motshwene and Alfred Sindane, and choreographed several fight-sequences, including a boxing match between the film’s lead, Mduduzi, and ‘Niro’ played by Hassan Masia. Also involved were stunt driver, Robbie Smith; boxing instructor, Manny Fernandez, and personal trainer, Andile Mxakaza (who both trained Mduduzi and Hassan).
Music was an important element in the film, which features the voices of Alexandra Township choirs, the Johannesburg University Choir and the Moderbee Correctional Facility Choir. Zwai Bala assisted the production as Choir Director.
CAST LIST – ‘HEARTLINES’
|Jacob||Mpho Joseph Molepo||MLA|
|Sibusiso||Thabo Tshabalala||Professional Kids|
|Bra Stone||Mbongeni Ngema||Independent|
|Captain Hlatshwayo||Obed Baloyi||MLA|
|Martha Molepo||Zoleka Duma||MLA|
|Andrea Bland||Fiona Ramsay||MLA|
|Franki Bland||Kelly Tucker||Professional Kids|
|Betty Dixon||Celeste Litkie .||Independent|
|Alice Anderson||Jessica Anstey||Intertalent|
|Tom Anderson||Norman Anstey||Intertalent|
|Zweli||Bongani Maseko||Bongani Linda|
|Short Prisoner||Glen Kumalo||Independent|
|Scarred Prisoner||Joseph Ngobeni||Bongani Linda|
|Bra Jiyane||Fats Bookholane||MLA|
|Zungu||Bongani Gumede||Cast Africa|
|Attractive Woman||Amanda Lane||MLA|
|Fariki||Kenneth Mathate||Bongani Linda|
|Drug Dealer 1 Yeoville||Given Ngwenya||Israel Mokoe|
|Drug Dealer 2 Yeoville||Lovejoy Ngwenya||Israel Mokoe|
|Voluptuous Woman||Kgomotso Ditshwene||MLA|
|Car Guard||Bongani Dlamini||Bongani Linda|
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