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Ralph Ziman’s directs his South African Robin Hood movie “Jerusalema”

Move over big budget action films costing $ 100-$200 million and take a look at Jerusalema, a film that cost $2 million with unknown actors, Studio heads should check out director/writer Ralph Ziman’s film ,which is a wakeup call of how much a really great action film can give you a big bang for your buck .The story revolves these young wannabe gangsters, Lucky Kunene ( younger Jafta Mamabolo , older Rapulana Seiphemo as an adult) and Zakes (younger Motlatsi Mahloko, older Ronnie Nyakale). And who are caught up in a life of crime because it the only way that they can survive in a country where poverty is just a way of life. In a way they reminded me of Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts in the film, “The Pope of Greenwich Village”. Jerusalema is based on a real story in which director; Ziman took many liberties with his script and even brought in a love affair with Lucky and Leah Freidlander (Shelley Meskin Leah) a Jewish girl. The entire film was shot in Hillbrow which is a very dangerous area to begin with and makes South Central Los Angeles look like Disneyland in comparison. Crime is an every day occurrence and the film crews were also victims but no shots were fired. “Just give me your money and I will not shoot you”, they were told. The director, along with DP, Nicolas Hofmeyer, used a guerilla style of filmmaking and did ride-alongs with the police and caught some real life dramas in doing so. As a young man Lucky really wants to go to University but lack of funds (obviously no student loan programs in South Africa) has forced him in this life of a gangster. After a big shootout early in the film Lucky and Zakes leave their village and settle in the big city and try to make an honest living with a taxi service but as Al Pacino (as Michael Coreolone )said in the film Godfather 3 ,“I tried to get out but the pulled me back in”. So, Lucky creates a non-profit housing business to restore the run down buildings where they all live and clean up the drugs and prostitution and succeeds until both the police and a major drug dealer from Nigeria, Tony Ngu (Malusi Skenjana). Drive him to be Public Enemy number 1...Will Lucky ever reach the promised land, I think Ralph Ziman has.
Anchor Bay is releasing this film
Camera (color, widescreen), Nicolas Hofmeyer; editor, David Helfand; music, Alan Ari Lazar; art director, Flo Ballack; costume designer, Natalie Lundon. Running time: 118 MIN.
Ron Gilbert


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