Durban film student gets thumbs up for Oscar.

Durban based film student Nathan Rice has just been shortlisted for the Student Academy of Motion Picture Awards in the Best Short Foreign Student Film category for his film Homeless.

Rice, who has just completed his degree at AFDA grew up amongst the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal in an area called Kranskop and is thrilled to be shortlisted by CILECT for an Oscar nomination for his film Homeless. “When I heard the news, I was speechless. I had never imagined something like this would happen. The film started out as a little dream project that would eventually just be my film school project. However, it seemed to have touched many people, enough for it to be considered for such a prestigious award. I hope that through this, the film will get seen by many people and the message of the film will spread”, said Rice.

Director of Homeless, Nathan Rice.

Director of Homeless, Nathan Rice.

The film is equipped with themes relevant to both local and international audiences and with it tells the story of a young man and his little brother who are evicted from their shanty in a rural settlement. The narrative follows their journey in search for the home of their long lost mother who used to be a musician. The only possession they have is a trumpet which hasn’t been played in years. Along the way, they meet various and interesting homeless people with whom they either clash or unite with. According to Rice, “The film deals with issues of homelessness. But more so, it is about homelessness of the soul. It deals with finding a reason to live and keep going. It is also about unity. The film shows how music is a tool that can be used to unify people of different backgrounds”.

The AFDA student has already reaped a favorable response from industry professionals and despite not yet being confirmed as a nominee, the shortlisting itself holds a valuable weight for the future of his career. Through this success, film in South Africa will be able to strengthen its footprint in the international market. Rice says, “If the film does end up at the Academy awards, I will be extremely happy – not for myself but because it will help put South Africa on the map. I think there is a lot of potential in the country and this could turn people’s eyes towards us. Hopefully, if we keep working hard at it, the local industry can keep growing and end up matching the industry overseas”.

In a conversation with Rice about the film-making process, he stated that he did not have a budget per se, and that the equipment was provided by AFDA to form part of his film project.

The cast and crew werehomeless made up of good friends, students, as well as AFDA alumni and Rice was eager to share more about the committed and talented team that helped bring the film to life.

“The main actor in the film was Cebo Zikhali – a third year performance student at AFDA. He studies stage acting; however, I have always enjoyed his work on film. Before I even started writing the screenplay, I spoke to Cebo about it and asked him if he would be interested. This was one of the best things I could have done for the project since he helped me from such an early stage to form the character of Philani which he plays. The director of photography was the very talented Bradley McGee who I worked with for the first time on this project. From the first time I met with him to speak about the film, I knew that he was the perfect person to shoot it for me. He understood everything I was trying to do with the images and helped me form it extremely well. I think the film looks very beautiful, if I do say so myself. My editor/sound designer was Darren Jaynarayan, my long-time collaborator. He and I have a great working relationship and we often have lots of fun exploring the film’s nuggets in post-production. My producer was Londiwe Shange who was enormously helpful in getting the film made. I could always bring my ideas and struggles to her and she would help me deal with them”, said Rice.

Nathan intends to enter ‘Homeless’ into several international and local festivals and thereafter make it available online so that it can reach wider audiences. He said that this achievement can only mean good news and that he hopes to keep making films and sharing them with the world.

Nathan expresses his sincere thanks to his family for the support he received, as well as to his lecturers who not only were great mentors but a true inspiration to him.

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