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Fortissimo boards Breathe Umphefumlo


- Puccini’s La bohème gets South African treatment

Fortissimo boards Breathe Umphefumlo
Breathe Umphefumlo by Mark Dornford-May

Fortissimo Films has acquired world rights, excluding South Africa, to Mark Dornford-May’s Breathe Umphefumlo [+see also:
film profile
a film adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, reset from 19th century Paris to contemporary South Africa. Dornford-May previously directed U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, a version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, for which he won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005. Breathe Umphefumlo will have its world premiere at Berlin on February 8, as an Out of Competition selection.

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The film is a co-production between South Africa’s Isango Ensemble and Advantage Entertainment, and the UK’s Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME), with backing from ARTE, South African rebate funding, and the HOPE Project of the University of Stellenbosch. Theatrical release in South Africa is set for later this year with KykNET, the Afrikaans division of pay-TV operator M-Net, having acquired the film.

ARTE has pre-acquired some television rights for France and Germany. Fortissimo will commence further sales at the European Film Market

Fortissimo’s Managing Director, Nelleke Driessen, together with the film’s Executive Producer, F&ME’s Mike Downey, and producer Vlokkie Gordon of Advantage, negotiated the deal. 

Driessen said, “This is a film where the setting, the renowned and wonderful La bohème inspired operatic songs sung in Xhosa combined with the raw emotions of the story come together in a powerful and moving portrayal of the realities of life, love and death in contemporary South Africa.”

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