Set in the vibrant, Afropolitan community of Johannesburg’s Yeoville, Ayanda is a coming-of-age story of a 21-year-old Afro-hipster, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when she has to fight to save her late father’s legacy – a motor repair shop – when it is threatened with closure. She’s thrown into a world of greasy overalls, gender stereotypes and abandoned vintage cars once loved, now in need of a young woman’s re-inventive touch to bring them back to life again.
Directed by Sara Blecher (Dis ek, Anna) and with Fulu Moguvhani in the title role, the recipient of the coveted Special Jury Prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival held in June this year, was described as “… entertaining, ambitious and poignant…” with the director “… deftly using animation and reportage to move through a very human and socially significant story’. Ayanda was also selected as the opening night film at the 36th Durban International Film Festival held in July this year.
The film stars Fulu Mugovhani (of Scandal fame) and Nigerian actor OC Ukeje, with a star South African cast including Ntathi Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Jafta Mamabola, Thomas Gumede, Sihle Xaba and veteran star of stage and screen Vanessa Cooke.
“Ayanda celebrates the diversity of our country and revels in the fact that we are a multi-cultural, colourful and exciting melting pot of Africa,” says co-producer Terry Pheto. “With this film we have tried to capture the Afropolitan nature of our country and the energy of its people.”
A community vibrant with African migrants from across the continent, searching for something better, spliced between South African’s indigenous, multi-cultured stalwarts, Yeoville has conceived its own set of rules to survive. Occasionally legal. Often – not.
Since the death of Ayanda’s father, Moses, seven years ago, after a freak accident in his own beloved garage, Dorothy, Ayanda’s mother, has resisted interaction with the business, harbouring guilt around his death, which she’d rather not re-awaken. When Ayanda’s “uncle” and part-owner of the garage, Zama, announces that the business has been in severe debt and it’s time to sell, Dorothy, quietly relieved, agrees.
However, Ayanda’s memories of her father are rekindled when she visits the garage one last time. Shocked at the state of decline and armed with reminders of its former glory days, Ayanda persuades Dorothy to agree to a reprieve. Zama has no choice but to reluctantly approve. And so with David, the Nigerian mechanic who harbours trauma from his dark past, and Zoum, the enthusiastic but exam-averse non-mechanic, the trio set about rebuilding the business.
After a few false starts and a touch of sabotage, Ayanda grabs onto the vintage car makeover idea, and against all odds, the business heads into profit. And Ayanda into David’s arms – on occasion. However, as success looms, Ayanda becomes obsessed with the version of her father she’s re-creating through the garage. She’ll go to any length to preserve this illusion, even to the extent of betraying David in order to save the business from closure by the cops. And finally – when she discovers Zama’s true motivation for the sale, even her mother.
But success feels empty when the realisation sets in – how far she is prepared to go to preserve something that is lost entirely in the past – her father, the garage, and her refusal to move forward into a future for herself and those she loves. As she sets out to right wrongs with those she’s hurt, a new era begins. With the skills she has acquired, she begins to build a new business, this time with her eye on the future – not the past.
Now available on DVD.