EXCLUSIVE: Mark Dornford-May has now finished Unogumbe, a filmed opera based based on Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.

The production from Film & Music Entertainment stars Khayelitsha Township-based theatre company Isango Ensemble. 

The story of Noah has been updated to be set in the township. Pauline Malefane [pictured] plays the leading role, updated to Mrs Noah.

This is the first film that Isango has done that hasn’t been a stage production first – and it is described as a complete reworking of the piece.

The film, supported by the Britten-Pears Foundation, will be launched to coincide with the Britten centenary.

“True to form and following our Berlinale winner UCarmen eKhayelitsha and Sundance hit Son of Man, the Isango company have come up with a thoroughly engaging and wonderfully entertaining piece of work,” said F&ME’s Mike Downey. “We will be in Cannes to sign an international sales company for the film as well as to present for selection at upcoming A Festivals.”

Longtime Dornford-May collaborator Giulio Biccari will serve as DoP. The musical director is Mandisi Dyantyis with Lungela Ngamlana as choreographer.

Media Film Service and Searle Street Post Production provided facilities and services.

F&ME is also working with Dornford-May and Isango on La Boheme – Abanxhaxi, which is in the final stages of financing and should shoot this summer.

Dornford-May and Malefane (who also plays Mimi) have now finished the Puccini adaptation. La Boheme will be the first film to shoot under the F&ME/Isango banner, and F&ME chairman Stephen Daldry will executive produce.

“The production is a unique partnership with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.” Says F&ME’s Mike Downey, “The striking and brutal realities of the everyday life of the poor, their struggle for food,shelter and medicine is contained within some of the most glorious operatic music ever composed. Mimi’s death from tuberculosis cannot but strike a chilling chord in our modern world. Puccini’s message is clear and unambiguous - her death is a crime - committed because of our lack of collective humanity.”

F&ME has a slew of titles screening in Cannes market, including Peter Greenaway’s Goltzius and the Pelican Company sold by Bankside.