Son of Man: An African Jesus Film — the review’s up!

sonofmananafricanjesusIt was a long time coming, but I finally finished my review of Son of Man: An African Jesus Film — a collection of essays about Mark Dornford-May’s challenging reimagining of Jesus as a modern political activist — and got it published in Books & Culture.

If you subscribe to the magazine, you’ve had access to my article for about a month now, but today it came out from behind the paywall, so everyone can read it here.

Incidentally, this reminds me, I don’t believe I ever posted a link to my B&C article on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. (It went online in May, and it may or may not be behind a paywall now; I clicked on the link twice today and got the full article the second time, but not the first.)

Because it can take a while for magazines to be edited etc., that article was one of the first things I wrote about Noah after seeing the film, and it was one of the last things I wrote about it that was actually published. Thankfully, despite all the controversies that erupted in the interim, I still agree with everything I wrote back then!

Drunk husbands and environmental issues: a brief note on the South African adaptation of Britten’s Noah opera

Last September, I noted that Mark Dornford-May’s short film Unogumbe, based on Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film has continued to play at festivals since then — appearing at the Berlinale in February, for example — but it has not, to my knowledge, played anywhere near me yet, nor am I aware of any plans to distribute the film, even online.

The Boston Globe now has an article on the film which, interestingly enough, is not tied to any screening of the film in that city but, rather, was prompted by a live performance of Britten’s opera by a local choir this weekend.

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Two very different Jesus shows heading for television

Remember Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus?

Last year, the National Geographic Channel teamed up with Ridley Scott’s production company to turn O’Reilly’s book into a TV-movie, just as they had done with his earlier books Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot.

Now comes word that they’re going to make their third project a little longer, and turn it into a four-hour mini-series that will begin production this summer and premiere sometime in 2015.

Hmm. You don’t suppose the enormous success of the mini-series The Bible last year — which led to this year’s Son of God on the big screen and next year’s A.D. on the NBC network — had anything to do with Killing Jesus getting more airtime, do you?

Meanwhile, a very different sort of TV show is set to premiere this year. The Hollywood Reporter says Aaron McGruder, creator of the animated comedy The Boondocks (2005-2010), is working on a live-action series called Black Jesus for the Adult Swim network, and the trade paper describes the premise thusly:
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The South African Noah musical now has a trailer!

Last month, I noted that Mark Dornford-May, the South Africa-based director of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005) and Son of Man (2006), had combined his interest in things biblical and operatic by directing an adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.

Since then, I have been reading and working on a review of Son of Man: An African Jesus, a collection of essays about Dornford-May’s second film, and one of the things I have learned from that book is how certain elements of that film are essentially borrowed from the Chester Mystery Plays — and that’s rather interesting, as the opera behind Dornford-May’s newest film is, itself, based on one of those plays.

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Noah and the Flood come to a South African township

Darren Aronofsky isn’t the only filmmaker tackling the story of Noah and the Flood right now. Mark Dornford-May, a British-born South African filmmaker who has already directed feature-length adaptations of opera (U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, 2005) and the Bible (Son of Man, 2006), recently finished making a short film about the Flood that is both biblical and operatic in origin.

The film in question is called Unogumbe, and it is based on Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde — which, itself, was based on a 15th-century mystery play that was, itself, based on the biblical story of Noah.

Screen Daily first mentioned the film three months ago, and reported that Pauline Malefane, who played Carmen and the Virgin Mary in the previous films, will play Mrs Noah in the new film. They also reported that this is the first film produced by the Isango Ensemble — a theatre company founded by Dornford-May and Malefane — that wasn’t developed as a stage production first.

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Son of Man: An African Jesus — new book coming in 2013

Nearly seven and a half years ago, I blogged the news that some South African filmmakers were preparing a modern-day version of the life of Jesus, featuring a primarily black cast. Less than a year later, the film — called Jezile or, in English, Son of Man — began touring the festival circuit, and I posted links to some of the early reviews. And then, a few months later, I was able to offer my own (very brief) two bits when I caught the film at a local festival. (I also gave a nod to the film in an article I wrote around that time on ethnicity in Jesus films.)

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