If you’re tired of the election cycle and looking for the funnier side to South African politics – a new locally made film could be just what you’re looking for.
Wonder Boy For President, a political satire directed by John Barker, opens nationwidetomorrow Friday July 29, just days before the local elections on Wednesday August 3.
The film, which mocks the freaky state of South African politics, tells the story of Wonder Boy, a charismatic and authoritative young man from the Eastern Cape, who is coerced into running for president by two dubious and corrupt characters. Their aim is to mould him into a great politician and then manufacture his downfall at the right time, for the right price.
But Wonder Boy, played by Kagiso Lediga, proves to be everything that people say of him: magnetic, convincing and loved. He’s also committed to improving the lives of everyday people in South Africa. Brutus and Shakes (Ntosh Madlingozi and Tony Miyambo) have their work cut out for them trying to control the wildly popular and politically adventurous Wonder Boy.
Against this backdrop of political chaos, Wonder Boy falls for the official opposition’s Mbali Sithole. When their romance is exposed by ruthless journalist Kerry Mercer, things start to fall apart for the people’s hero.
Gardens resident, Lara Lipschitz, who plays the role of the reporter in the movie said satire will always be an important form of expression. “It is important to have freedom of speech and it’s important to be able to express yourself without fear of getting in trouble. If ever you feel like you can’t say what you want then there is something wrong.”
She said that it was part of the producer’s plan to highlight that this was a political satire. “It’s perfect timing (the release of the film). For me it was a fantastic opportunity to be in a film that is tongue-in-cheek and serious. It’s great to play this character who will do whatever it takes to get a story.”
She said most of the scenes were shot two years ago.
Ms Lipschitz said her experience of being a presenter on YoTV had prepared her for this role. “It came relatively naturally but I had to brush up on my politics. It’s fictitious characters in real situations. We went to real (political) rallies and situations where ANC or DA supporters would be gathering. It was a type of method acting that was challenging and quite scary at times – and fun.”
Ms Lipshitz, 28, said she moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg to pursue her career in film. She also works at the Fugard Theatre and recently featured in a production called Bad Jews. To survive as an actress, she says, “You have to be flexible and versatile as much as you can.”
Of Wonder Boy For President, she says: “Expect a funny movie that will get you to debate and discuss what’s going on in South African politics. Who do we vote for and why? How do we change things?”
She said it was vitally important that young people were a part of the debate. “We need to get involved because this is our future. It’s definitely important to be involved and to vote. Do your research, every party has its pros and cons, but be involved.”
In addition to being an actress, Ms Lipschitz also writes and produces her own web series on Youtube called Chin Up, and is currently working on season two of the show.
“It is about how I see and relate to South Africa. It’s not necessarily political.”
Director John Barker said: “Wonder Boy for President pulls no punches and packs in the laughs throughout. The film is a hard-hitting and deeply funny political satire that delves into political dynamics and the challenges unique to the crazy world of South African politics.
“We were blessed to have a whole bunch of South Africa’s top comedians collaborate with us on the film. At a time when the rand-dollar exchange rate has dampened the mood of the country, and amid all the doom and gloom in the media about government corruption, greed and cronyism, it was fabulous to make a film to parody the current times, make us take a deep long look at the absurdity of it all, and laugh.”
Mr Barker added: “There are also some well-known faces that play themselves. These include President Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Mmusi Maimane, Floyd Shivambu, Cyril Ramaphosa, Zwelinzima Vavi, Helen Zille, and Zapiro.”