Mandla Dube Directs New Netflix Action Thriller
- Silverton Siege – action thriller about the freedom struggle
- Decolonising the African narrative
- Revolutionary new Digital Melanin Cinematography
- “Let Hollywood Come To You”
- Silverton Siege launches on Netflix, April 27
ON the night Netflix was to run the very first trailer for his political action thriller, Silverton Siege, load-shedding prevented director Mandla Dube from toasting the moment. The irony was not lost on him. For Dube’s Silverton Siege (starring Thabo Rametsi, Arnold Vosloo, Noxolo Dlamini and Stefan Erasmus) tells the story of three freedom fighters who, in escaping the apartheid regime’s security police, inadvertently hold up a bank in Pretoria, 1980. The siege and shootout that resulted, inspired – as Netflix has advertised – a movement to free Nelson Mandela. A Netflix Original, Silverton Siege launches on South Africa’s Freedom Day, April 27, and looks set to be one of the most important African films yet shown on the streamer. The Wire spoke to Mandla Dube and, amongst other things, learned about Digital Melanin Correction.
THE WIRE: Your first film, Kalushi, was about a freedom fighter and now Silverton Siege also deals with a similar time period. What draws you to the epoch?
MANDLA DUBE: Both of these stories come from a trilogy I have termed “The Legends of Freedom” and all the stories are taking place in the capital of the country, which is now known as City of Tshwane. After my Master’s in Cinematography at AFI (the American Film Institute) I ventured into seeking further studies (my second Masters) at WITS University in South Africa while I was lecturing there. My studies centered around preserving heritage in the convergence of technology. We are seeing that happen now, especially with streaming services like Netflix. I have always been passionate about decolonizing the African narrative by dispelling the European gaze. The last installation of the trilogy will be The Rivonia Trial.
TW: Do you feel Silverton Siege will make impact in Africa and the world with regards to viewers on Netflix?
MD: I am optimistic. It’s a universal story stuck in a socio-political struggle. Netflix streams to over 190 countries with approximately more than four-hundred million viewers, so I hope the story will have that desired, universal impact amongst people, especially the youth, at home and abroad. It’s also an action thriller so there’s a lot of conflict, along with characters that are very human, with all their flaws.
TW: What do you feel African filmmakers need to do to have their work taken seriously, globally, while raising the quality of films made on the continent?
MD: African filmmakers must start seeing themselves as filmmakers fully capable of telling their own stories without fear – and be unapologetic in doing so.
TW: Tell us a little about Digital Melanin Cinematography (DMC)?
MD: Again, it is very important we take control of our image as Africans and present to the rest of the world standards that we have set. DMC seeks to correct the past wherein the old technology did not have standards set for black melanin skin tones irrespective of race (Indian, African, Native American etc.). We got into a wonderful partnership with Netflix to set these standards on melanin and other skin tones on Silverton Siege. The movie presented an opportunity to partner with Netflix on setting standards for all skin tones, with priority given to black melanin skin tones. This has opened an opportunity to take this innovation and share it with other filmmakers who are intentional on ensuring black melanin skin tones are filmed at the highest standards. The upcoming Sony Studios film directed by Gina Prince Bythewood titled Woman King – starring Gina Davis, and South Africa’s newest talent Thuso Mbedu – will also embrace DMC. Hopefully this will catch on and other studios will begin to adopt DMC as a standard especially where the majority of the cast have a melanin skin tone.
TW: What do you feel is the future of African film & TV?
MD: While I taught students at WITS, I used to say to them “Don’t go to Hollywood, let Hollywood come to you”. And Hollywood is now at Africa’s doorstep knocking for our content. So, the future looks quite bright. As African filmmakers we need to assert ourselves to have an Afrocentric outlook which will begin to construct the African narrative ‘For us, By us’ to the world. In other words, we need to tell our stories from the heart and use our minds to entertain while keeping our integrity.
TW: What’s your favorite moment in Silverton Siege?
MD: There are a lot of moments which I love but the one that really stands out the most has to be Day 1, when we started shooting. And what I am most looking forward to is April 27th, the release date of Silverton Siege on Netflix!
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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