SABC1 Airs Restored South African Classic Films

Starting on 13 April, and every Sunday after that at 20h30, SABC1 will be showcasing films produced in a forgotten era of South Africa’s film history. 

Mayibuye means “bringing back what is lost” in Zulu, and in the month of April Retro Afrika Bioscope will be bringing audiences the first six of hundreds of lost South African films from the 70s and 80s in the Mayibuye Film Festival on SABC 1.

Not only is this the first time the films will be seen by audiences in over 20 years, but it will also be their TV debut. For audiences without access to SABC1, at midnight after their screenings, the films will be available to watch for free on the dedicated Retro Afrika Bioscope channel on and on Cinemo for Mxit subscribers.

Retro Afrika Bioscope is Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s speciality release label for classic retro African content. In 2013 Gravel Road launched an initiative to locate, digitally restore and re-release films produced for the oppressed majority (African) audiences in the 70s and 80s under the old South African film subsidy schemes.
“Very few people are aware that there were literally hundreds of movies produced for African audiences during the Apartheid era, the majority of these (films) are pure entertainment and range in genre from comedy to Westerns in local vernacular,” says group CEO Benjamin Cowley. 
“This was the beginnings of our industry and no-one has paid any homage to this. This is our way of honouring those who contributed to the development of our industry under the most trying of circumstances, where cast and crew were forced to eat, be transported and accommodated separately because of the colour of their skin.” 
Cowley goes on to say: “We had Nollywood before there was Nollywood.”

The initiative was launched with Joe Bullet, a filmed originally banned in 1973 by the Apartheid government, starring Ken Gampu, Abigail Kubeka and Cocky 'Two Bull' Joe.

Bullet will have its official African premier at the Durban International Film Festival in July this year, and is being considered by a number of other high profile international film festivals.

All films being released by Retro Afrika Bioscope undergo a highly specialised digital restoration process at Waterfront Film Studios in Cape Town.

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