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Help kickstart Calabash: The Story of the First African World Cup


We’re all about football today – Calabash is a story about four characters and their struggle to turn their dreams around the World Cup into reality. The project is being funded through Kickstarter – so head on over and see if you can help out. Check out the project here.


About the work:


The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa has come and gone, leaving memories of triumph and defeat, heroes and villains, and the deafening sound of vuvuzelas. Images of international icons gallantly dressed in their nation’s colors were transmitted from inside illustrious new stadia to millions of viewers across the globe. The mecca of this great event was Soccer City Stadium, affectionately dubbed The Calabash for its resemblance to the African gourd, the mosaics on its walls representing the mixture of Rainbow Nation’s diverse cultures.


Calabash is the story of the first African World Cup, told through the eyes of five extraordinary characters. Originally inspired by the filmmaker’s grandfather, Octavio Llano, a foreign visitor attending his 13th consecutive World Cup (started in Chile ’62, and he’s already gearing up for Brazil 2014), the film begins by chronicling the anticipation of his arrival from inside and around the majestic Calabash. In the months leading up to the tournament, we followed the lives of four humble and inspiring South Africans as they work to turn their World Cup dreams into reality.


The cast includes Mary Madida, an industrious bed-and-breakfast owner kick-starting a new business by hosting World Cup tourists in her Soweto home; Alfred Baloyi, an artist and cult celebrity credited with inventing the makarapa, the quintessential symbol of South African football folklore; Mpumelelo, a talented footballer and diligent student on the brink of professional breakthrough; and Amos Mhlongo, a jolly foreman who takes pride in building the Calabash but longs to return to his rural family life.


The idea for the film was conceived by Alex Flick and Gerardo Chapa on a gloomy fall day in the basement of a Greenwich Village tea shop. A few months later, in the Spring of 2010, we met South African journalist Dave Gemmell and brought him on board as a producer. Upon arriving in South Africa, we added George Mahashe, a talented photographer a native Sotho-speaker as our local guide and cameraman. Back in London, editors Xavier Leret and Kyri Evangelou worked tirelessly on this trailer and rough cuts of each scene. In October of 2010, our supervising editor, Masato Riesser joined Gerardo on a second trip to South Africa to find out how our characters’ lives had evolved since the World Cup. Now, three years later and with the next World Cup around the corner, Daniel Turcan, an experienced editor in Los Angeles, has been entrusted with completing the film.


Special thanks goes out to Nick von Christierson and Cesar Balmaseda for being our fourth and fifth cameras on opening day.


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