[The Film Blog] A definitive Brenda Fassie Biopic with a strictly South African cast is just what we need right now

Brenda Fassie

The legacy of South African pop diva Brenda Fassie will be immortalized on screen after UK film company Showbizbee acquired the film rights to the late superstar’s life story and announced this week. A director by the name Edward W. Shaw is reportedly currently working on the biopic which he will co-produce with Fassie’s son Bongani.

“It is with great excitement that we have partnered with Showbizbee Film Productions to make the Brenda Fassie movie for box office release,” Bongani Fassie said in a statement. “I’m particularly eager to participate in the production as co-executive producer so that the real story of my mom comes alive to the people of South Africa and the world.”

This news has brought on great excitement, but the question that has dominated public discourse and especially on South African Twitter is who will play the role of Brenda Fassie?. But what we already know is that the cast will be strictly South African, as confirmed by Bongani himself in an interview with Radio 702. The reason for this is glaring. A large number of South African biopics are usually played by Hollywood actors. The role of iconic anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was played by Morgan Freeman in the 2009 biopic Invictus, so much so that in 2013, following Mandela’s death, a billboard designer in India had erroneously featured Morgan Freeman’s face instead Nelson Mandela’s in a memorial billboard.

Fassie, who died in May 2004, was dubbed the African queen of pop and the black Madonna, among other nicknames. Production is set to kick off next month with shoots in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the biopic will be a period comedy-drama that follows a young Brenda Fassie who is determined to become a singer, from Cape Town where she was born. The film has been scheduled for a late-year release or early 2019.

It will also be interesting to see if the biopic properly portrays Fassie’s bisexuality.


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