South African Indian filmmaker drops shooting at racist resort

April 1st, 2008 - 5:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, April 1 (IANS) Leading South African Indian filmmaker Anant Singh has halted production of a new comedy film at a riverside resort near here which has previously been in trouble with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for only allowing whites onto its premises. Local media who went to the Broederstroom Holiday Resort where shooting for the film “Mr Bones 2″ took place last week were surprised to learn that the owner, Albertus Pretorius, insisted that only whites be allowed onto the premises.

The film would have been the first such co-production between India and South Africa after Singh announced this in India last year, but later decided to shoot only in South Africa because of what Singh’s company Videovision called “logistical problems”. It was reliably learnt that negotiations with some of India’s top film companies had fallen through.

In the movie, Leon Schuster plays a white madcap comedian who finds favour with an African tribe. Hence, almost 100 Black actors were temporarily allowed onto the resort premises, reports said.

“Racist behaviour is unacceptable,” said Singh.

In a joint statement with Schuster, Singh added: “We are surprised by the comments and attitude of Mr Pretorius, the owner of Broederstroom Resort. Our film has a fully integrated cast and crew, with more than 50 percent being Black. We do not support nor condone any racist policies and have an impeccable practice of non-racism in all of our film productions.”

“We are currently in discussion with the Human Rights Commission on this matter and will be moving off the location.”

Last month, Singh issued a statement to reaffirm his concerns about racism in South Africa. It said: “I urge all South Africans to say no to racism in whatever form.

“Recent events in our country have confirmed that racism is alive and well in the minds of many, and this is unacceptable. Our constitution expects us to build a society based on equality, non-racialism and non-sexism. We have certainly laid a firm foundation, however the last few weeks have shown that we dare not be complacent.”

“Mr Bones” became an international hit after Shuster played a White African Sangoma (traditional healer) who gets involved in a range of comic capers combining slapstick and cross-cultural idiosyncrasies. Schuster has had numerous hits in the past decade using this unique brand of comedy.

“‘Mr Bones 2′ is a sequel to ‘Mr Bones’, which was very popular with Indian audiences, both in theatres and on TV, and was dubbed into Hindi and other local languages,” Singh said.

The Broederstroom resort hit international headlines in 2005 when the Human Rights Commission took it to the Equality Court, which hears charges of alleged racism. The court slapped Pretorius and his wife, co-owners of the resort, with a 10,000-rand ($1,300) fine, but the matter was settled out of court when the couple agreed to change the whites only policy at the resort.

Three years later, the resort is again facing the wrath of the SAHRC as the producers of “Mr Bones 2″ packed up their cameras Monday and sought alternative locations.

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