By Mohalenyane Phakela
MASERU –– Award-winning movie, The Forgotten Kingdom, premiered at Ster-Kinekor theatre last Saturday before a packed audience which included King Letsie III, Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
The feature film was shot in Lesotho and South Africa in 2011, with its cast drawn from the two neighbouring countries.
The plot revolves around a young man, Atang (played by South African actor Senzo Nqobe), who leaves the hustle-and-bustle of Johannesburg and returns to his ancestral land, Lesotho, to bury his estranged father.
Atang is forced to befriend a boy ,Tau (played by Lebohang Ntsane), who helps him reconnect with his roots and find his childhood friend Lineo (Nozipho Nkelemba) who is now a schoolteacher, and had moved to another village with her father and sister. The family had moved because the father did not want the community to know that Lineo’s sister, Nkoti, had HIV.
It is through Lineo that Atang is drawn towards the mystical beauty and hardships experienced by his people — and reluctantly experiences a life-transformation of the land he had chosen to forget.
The movie’s cast includes well-known South African actors such as Jerry Mofokeng, Lillian Dube, the late Moshoeshoe Chabeli , and Jerry Phele, while Lesotho is well-represented by the likes of Silas Monyatsi, ‘Mamamello Motšoene, Bohlokoa Ramalitse and Papali Monyake.
Speaking at Saturday’s premiere, the movie’s American writer/director, Andrew Mudge, said: “I came to Lesotho 10 years ago visiting my brother who was a volunteer in Mohale’s Hoek.
“During my stay there, I learned that most people leave their homes and go to other countries to get a better life and forget about their roots. That is where the concept of the film was drawn from.
“I then met Silas Monyatsi, the local filmmaker, who took me on a tour to see this beautiful country. He helped me come up with the whole cast of the movie after I shared the concept with him. It took over eight years to make the film ready for the market.”
Lead-actor, Senzo Nqobe, said the film gave him a whole new experience.
“I was thrilled when the producer approached me with the script. I went through it and discovered it was different from all the movies I had starred in.
“For one, I had to learn how to ride a horse in a week, which was quite an awesome experience.
“It was my first time in Lesotho, and with the time that I spent here, I fell in love with this country. It is so beautiful,” Nqobe told the Weekender at Saturday’s screening.
Meanwhile, guests who attended the weekend premiere hailed the movie as depicting what Basotho really are, while also selling the enchanting tourism destinations of Lesotho. Copies of the film, which has won eleven international awards, are set to go on sale in May according to Mudge.