John Barker’s new film Wonder Boy for President, starring comedy heavyweight Kagiso Lediga in the title role as well as a host of other top comedians, opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday, July 29.
The film really taps into the best of new South African talent, and features a soundtrack composed and performed by Durban band Thee Legacy. Inspired by the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Thee Legacy was started in 2009.
The group describe their music as a blend of indigenous culture – a capella fused with R&B, hip-hop and isicathamiya. Its distinctly African sound is what they say sets them apart from the rest. Recently signed by Sony Music Entertainment Africa, the group were the inaugural winners of SABC 1’s The Sing Off South Africa in 2015. Led by Jabulani Mthembu, Thee Legacy members include Khanyisani Mazibuko, Philani Duma, Emile Ngcobo and Simphiwe Sikhakhane.
The Wonder Boy for President premiere, held at Ster-Kinekor’s The Zone cinema complex in Rosebank, Johannesburg on July 18, was a resounding success. Packed to the rafters, the event attracted some of South Africa’s most-loved music celebrities, including Hugh Masekela and hot new talent Moonchild Sanelly. Also in attendance were comedians Joey Rasdien and Riaad Moosa, and former Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi, who also has a cameo role in the movie.
“Wonder Boy for President is a gutsy and deeply funny political satire that delves into the dynamics and challenges unique to the crazy world of South African politics,” says director Barker. “We used the technique of retro-scripting, preparing the plot but leaving the actors to improvise a lot of their own dialogue, and because we had a cast comprising South Africa’s top comedians, the results were hilarious. It’s a parody of our times, with commentary on greed, corruption and cronyism, and no-one is spared.”
Wonder Boy for President tells the story of Wonder Boy, a charismatic and confident young man from the Eastern Cape, who is coerced into running for president by two shady characters. Their aim is to mould him into a great politician and then manufacture his downfall at the right time, for the right price. Their task is made somewhat easier when the hugely popular young politician falls for the leader of the opposition.
Barker and Lediga are no strangers to the local entertainment scene. Barker made his directorial debut with the award-winning comedy Bunny Chow, with Lediga as a writer and co-lead in the film. Thishiwe Ziqubu plays Mbali Sithole, the ambitious young leader of the official opposition who is the love interest in this rollicking spoof. Others in the cast include John Vlismas as Emeric “the dodgy dude with a gun”, Akin Omotoso as “a Nigerian on the street”, Loyiso Gola as himself and Barker as a “dodgy construction guy”.
Additional cast members include David Kibuuka, Zabalaza Mchunu, Lara Lipschitz, Bryan van Niekerk, Christopher Steenkamp, Camilo Saloojee, Daniel Friedman, Ntokozo Majozi, Tshepo Mogale, Lazola Gola, Robbie Collins, Mary Twala and Mojack. There are also some well-known faces that play themselves, including President Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Mmusi Maimane, Floyd Shivambu, Cyril Ramaphosa, Helen Zille, and Zapiro.
The film, produced through Barking Rat Film in association with Dog Pack Collective, was produced by Barker and Lediga, and co-produced by Tammy Lewis-Houghting and Jeremy Nathan. The script is by Barker, Camillo Saloojee, Christopher Steenkamp and Saki Bergh. The film is being released on circuit by Indigenous Film Distribution.