South African actress on world best list

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first_imgRay Maota Khomotso Manyaka as Chanda and Lerato Mvelase, who plays her mother Lillian. The movie is now available on DVD. (Images: Covering Media) MEDIA CONTACTS • Gauteng Film Commission  +27 11 085 2200 RELATED ARTICLES • SA short films in international festival • SA films scoop awards at Fespaco • SA film wins international award • Cannes triumph for SA filmsThe 15-year-old South African actress Khomotso Manyaka has earned a position on Time Magazine’s list of the 10 best performances of 2011.Manyaka was lauded for her performance as the scrawny, big-eyed Chanda in Life Above All, an adaptation of the Allan Stratton novel, Chanda’s Secrets. The film focuses on the stigma surrounding HIV/Aids.Both novel and film chronicle Chanda’s struggles with her parents’ illness because of HIV/Aids, and the stigma associated with the disease.Manyaka was only 13 when she landed the role, and had never taken professional acting classes before. But her performance has placed her among seasoned actors like Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and Woody Harrelson, also singled out for last year’s best performances.She said: “I’m very proud of myself: 2011 was a great year.”Director Oliver Schmitz said: “It was a tough call, the commitment to make the film with a first-time actress. It was a leap of faith for me and for her, she having never done it before.”Schmitz was also influenced in the decision by the chemistry between Manyaka and Lerato Mvelase, who plays her mother Lillian in the movie, during casting.The Mpumalanga-born teenager, whose star is rising fast, has earned herself a bursary from the National School of the Arts, along with her co-star and friend Keaobaka Makanyane. Manyaka will be in Grade 10 this year.She said: “There’s nothing lined up this year so far so I’m just concentrating on school now.”Time describes her performance: “Khomotso Manyaka was no Hollywood moppet, just a South African girl who had never acted, when director Oliver Schmitz picked her for the lead role in this starkly poignant drama about a family, a village, and a people devastated by the Aids plague.”The magazine said that Manyaka had played the resilient Chanda with “amazing poise, delicacy and grit”.Life, Above AllThe movie looks at how a young girl manages to touch the lives of her community, and shows how courage and strength can overcome adversity.The journey begins when Chanda’s baby brother dies suddenly and the community of Elandsdoorn in Mpumalanga begins to suspect this is because her mother has HIV. They begin to shun her.As a result, Chanda’s mother leaves the dusty town. This forces her daughter, who senses that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, to leave school and embark on a spiritual journey to find her lost mother and put an end to the situation.The movie is dedicated to children orphaned by the ravaging disease.Schmitz said: “Chanda’s Secret is a very dense novel, there is a lot happening in it. But what really moved me was the mother/daughter relationship for the film version.“There is a very complicated dynamic about a youngster that knows what is going on, but is scared to say it, and a mother who is scared to acknowledge the disease she has.”The unspoken matters that lie between mother and daughter, said Schmitz, inspired him to make the film.Life, Above All, which is now available on DVD, has been well received by its audiences and has turned Manyaka into a star to watch in the future.Multiple accoladesThe recognition of Manyaka’s performance by Time is not the first.Manyaka received the award for best actress at the South African Film and Television Awards in 2011, and also walked away with the honours in the same category at the Durban International Film Festival in 2010.The movie was shortlisted by the Academy Awards Committee in the category of Best Foreign Film in 2011.The icing on the cake came when the film made its world premiere at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and the appreciative audience gave it a 10-minute standing ovation.Schmitz said: “Walking out of the cinema, I met renowned movie critic Roger Ebert, who, as he is unable to speak, gestured his positive feelings towards the film with two thumbs up.”last_img

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Murder mystery entices applicants

first_imgOxford University’s Admissions Office have used a murder mystery event to try and increase applications from state sector pupils. During the Easter vacation University authorities invited local schoolchildren to take part in the event, based at Pembroke College. 50 students, aged between 14 and 15, were greeted at the beginning of their three-day visit by a body on the front quad, followed by the revelation of the Morse-like murder mystery scenario.Students were faced with a number of conundrums including a letter written in Syriac, which they were able to decode after a master class given by Gareth Hughes of the Oriental Institute. Hughes praised the intentions of the programme: “The best way to encourage the brightest to Oxford is to stimulate and challenge.  The Access Programme is incredibly important – especially considering Oxford’s position and status as a fairly elite institution. The murder mystery event is therefore an excellent way of engaging bright and enquiring minds in a variety of different ways.” Sinead Gallagher, the University’s Access Co-ordinator, organised the event.  She noted, “Summer schools often attract more girls than boys, so we wanted to give the residential a theme that would be appealing to boys in particular. ‘Murder in the Cloisters’ should be great fun for all taking part, and the students will learn a lot about what going to University means: study your sources carefully, learn to gather facts and question them, and draw your conclusion based on firm evidence.”Ché Ramsden, an assistant on the programme and first year English student at Wadham, spoke of the myths which still surround the University. “Some children I spoke to were under the impression that you have to incredibly rich to apply to Oxford – one even thought that fees were in excess of £20,000 a year. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The most important part of the Access Programme is destructing the false impressions people have of the University and its students – we’ve got to show young people that we are, on the whole, fairly normal people from normal backgrounds.”  One of the students taking part in the programme, Michael Dare of New Brompton College in Kent, spoke of his impressions of the University. “Before I came here I just thought everyone would be really posh and stuck up. Now I’m here I can see that the students are normal and pretty down to earth. I could really see myself coming here when I’m older.”last_img

Finsbury Food reports strong H1 growth

first_imgFinsbury Food Group has reported a 91% growth in its H1 UK bakery operating profit, from £3.8m to £7.2m.In the figures for the 26 weeks ended 26 December 2015, it also revealed UK bakery revenue jumped 49% from £96.3m to £143.2m and like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 6.1%.The company claimed success in both the cake, and bread & morning goods markets. It said revenue growth in the cake sector had been driven by a successful Christmas trading period and the success of such products as the Minions licensed celebration cake. Meanwhile, it said a focus on niche bread and morning goods helped defy a general value decline of -1.5% in that sector.Finsbury Foods has been strengthened in recent years by the acquisition of Fletchers Bakeries in the autumn of 2014, and Johnstone’s Food Service in the summer of last year. The company said that Fletchers had expanded bread and morning good opportunities by bringing in new foodservice and retail customers, while Johnstone’s had allowed the company to move into the coffee shop market, an area it previously had little exposure to.foreign salesForeign sales, primarily formed of the import of British baked goods into France, also saw growth, up 19% from £11.3m to £13.4m.John Duffy, chief executive of Finsbury Food Group, said: “We are very pleased to once again be reporting a strong first-half performance, with our organic growth being supplemented by the acquisition of Fletchers and Johnstone’s. Alongside this growth, our capital investment strategy, together with our continued efficiency programme, has resulted in improved operating margins.“Despite operating in a challenging market, we have created a group that is well-positioned to flourish in an improving environment and we look forward to benefiting from increased consumer confidence. Having built solid foundations and implemented a robust growth strategy that aims to create sustainable value for our stakeholders, we look forward to driving further growth both organically and through strategic M&A.”last_img

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