South African adaptation of Puccini’s opera directed by Berlinale Golden Bear winner Mark Dornford May.

Shooting has wrapped in Stellenbosch, South Africa on a contemporary adaptation of Puccini’s La Boheme.

Breathe – Umphefumlo is directed by Mark Dornford May and moves the story from its usual Parisian setting to modern South Africa. It centres on star crossed lovers Mimi (Busisiwe Ngejane) and Lungelo (Mhlekazi Mosiea).

The film is a partnership between South Africa’s Isango Advantage, the UK’s Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) and Germany’s Arte/Propeller Film. Support comes from Desmond and Leah Tutu’s Legacy Foundation

Dornford May won the Berlinale Golden Bear in 2005 with U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, a modern take on Bizet’s Carmen also set in South Africa.

Dornford May adapted this new approach to La Boheme with Pauline Malefane, who also handled the musical direction with Mandisi Dyantis. The score will be played by an orchestra of marimbas and steel pans.

Producers are Dornford May for Isango and Vlokkie Gordon of Advantage Entertainment.

F&ME awards

London-based F&ME recently won two awards: the European Co-production prize at Hamburg Film Festival for Welcome to Karastanl and the Warnier Postia Prize in Utrecht for I Want to Be Like You.

At the Holland Film Meeting,  director Konstantin Bojanov’s project won with  I Want to be Like You picking up the Warnier Postia prize.  The jury cited  that the film will be “a road movie to liberation, based on personal experiences by a director with a clear voice.”

Meanwhile, in Hamburg, Mayor Olaf Scholz awarded the Hamburg Production prize for European Co-Production to Ben Hopkins’s Welcome to Karastan scripted by Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida).

“Good movies need exciting material, creative contributors - and courageous ones, “said Scholz of the UK-Georgia-Russian and German minority co-pro, “and because of the size and scope of the project the responsibility lies with the vision of the producer.”