Press Release

THE TUNNEL at Sundance 22nd – 30th January .

The Tunnel, a South African 25min short film, jointly funded by Academy Award Winning Focus Features and the South African National Film and Video Foundation, has been selected for the Sundance Film Festival as part of the New African Cinema program within the Spotlight Section.

The film’s script was one of five selected for the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program in 2008, co-ordinated by Kisha Imani Cameron. Aimed at fostering the growth of African Cinema and developing relationships with some of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers on the continent, the program contributes not only financially, but also in an advisory and nurturing capacity.

Director, writer and producer, Jenna Bass, is a graduate of AFDA Film School, Cape Town. At 23 years old she has worked as a music video director, cinematographer, photographer and magician. She has directed over ten short films and seven music videos and her work has run the spectrum of sci-fi, experimental, drama, fantasy and animation.

The Tunnel was shot in Cape Town in May 2009 with a team of young filmmakers, including David Horler (Associate Producer), Jacques Koudstaal (DOP), Jacques de Villiers (Editor) and Maike Hitzeroth (Production Designer).The team pulled together to create a patch of Zimbabwe on South African soil, often working for free to realise the film’s vision and message.

Set in 1980s Matabeleland, Zimbabwe,  The Tunnel follows young Elizabeth, nicknamed ‘Rabbit’ because of her love of making up tall tales. When she arrives at a guerrilla camp desperate for help, Elizabeth must tell her greatest story of all, a story about her village, strangers, ghosts, the day her father dug a tunnel to the city and her journey to find him.

As the story unfolds, Elizabeth embarks on a quest for truth, weaving together fact and illusion. But reality is not far behind and, to save her village, Elizabeth will have to confront it.

This coming of age, magical realist fable is based on true events that took place during the Matabeleland Massacres just after Zimbabwe’s independence. It was in these early days of freedom that terrible deeds were conducted in secret, away from optimistic global eyes, overseen by the country’s new president, Robert Mugabe. Fuelled by age old disputes, Mugabe dispatched the 5th Brigade into opposition territory, where a campaign of terror was waged against rural Ndebele civilians. Mugabe christened the campaigns ‘Gukurahundi’, translated as ‘the rain that washes away the chaff’. To this day it has yet to be reconciled.

The Tunnel will screen alongside two other shorts from the Africa First program in Park City, between the 22nd – 30th January. Featuring a startlingly mature performance from 11 year old Sibulele Mlumbi (Elizabeth), The Tunnel captures an epic emotional tale, told through the eyes of a child. It not only marks an exciting time for the future of African Cinema, but hopefully ushers in an era of open dialogue in a continent with many wounds to heal and stories to tell.

For further information please contact : Jenna Bass on +27 72 804 3287 or jseebass@gmail.com


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