Bandoola Productions greenlights independent No Hillside without a Grave: a feature documentary about the British in Zululand 1875-1885. It is directed by Bex Singleton and will start principal photography on Monday 29th November in the UK and in South Africa.
- The documentary is about events depicted in the films Zulu and Zulu Dawn. It brings little known Zulu perspectives to a wider audience.
- Bex Singleton, NFTS graduate, has used international collaboration and innovation to keep the production safely on track despite lock down
The Director Bex Singleton, overcame the challenges of the Covid crisis and entirely restructured the pre-covid production plan. She will begin shooting simultaneously in the UK and KwaZulu Natal using innovative techniques which enable remote-direction of the filming. Her determination has allowed a range of creative freelancers to continue working during lock down.
The subject matter of the film concerns one of the darker episodes of Britain’s colonial past. Most British histories emphasise the very real heroism of individual soldiers, but gloss over the deceit and misuse of intelligence that led to the war in the first place. Zulu histories position this war and more specifically the battle at Isandlwana as the start of a long campaign for black majority rule in South Africa.
No Hillside without a Grave highlights how the local colonial government in Cape Town created a number of false narratives to justify a war they had been told to avoid by the British Government in London. False narratives leading to war are clearly a contemporary theme. The documentary examines why war was waged on the Zulus who saw themselves as allies of the British.
‘Why would the English throne me in the morning, and murder me in the afternoon?’ said Zulu King Cetshwayo who later travelled to London and met Queen Victoria.
Simon Sole, Executive Producer said. “We are very lucky to be working with Bex Singleton. She has found a way to tell this story using only the words of those who were there. Her experience of documentaries has led to a meticulous and compelling original narrative that will surprise, inform and entertain. The film weaves together diverse voices with a script developed from primary historical sources, in both isiZulu and English. Bex Singleton’s creative originality and long experience behind the camera means the narrative will be supported by something truly exceptional.”
Director Bex Singleton said “The covid pandemic entirely changed our production plan. There was a moment when it seemed that we would have to pause indefinitely; I’m very grateful that with creativity and determination we managed to find a way forward. Working remotely with our small, but dedicated, team throughout lockdown in the UK, and at the same time building relationships with people more than eight thousand miles away, without ever being able to meet in person, has definitely been the biggest challenge of my career to date. At the absolute heart of this film are those creative, collaborative relationships, and I’m proud that we’ve managed to cultivate them and move into principal photography, in the midst of so much uncertainty.”
Our collaborative relationships, include: Zulu Historian and Anthropologist, Hlonipha Mokoena; Professor at WiSER, Nhlanhla Mahlangu; Paul Garner Battlefield Guide at Rorke’s Drift Hotel; The Welsh Regiment and The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh; and with production company The Edit Room based in Durban, South Africa.
Notes for Editors
- The script has been developed in collaboration with Hlonipha Mokoena as the Zulu History and Culture Consultant (Associate Professor at WiSER). The film will feature both isiZulu and English languages, and voice actors are being cast in the UK and South Africa.
- The documentary features written accounts from: Zulu King Cetshwayo, Magema M Fuze (Zulu Author), Harriette Colenso, Theophilus Shepstone, Lord Chelmsford, Sir Bartle Frere.
- The film will be directed by recent NFTS documentary directing graduate Bex Singleton, whose award winning debut short film I’LL LOVE YOU TILL THE END is “not just a beautiful and deeply moving film about surviving suicide, but as a groundbreaking piece of mental health advocacy that will have an effect on all who watch it.’ and whose second short THE COWFOOT PRINCE was described as ‘a wonderful life enhancing documentary.’ by BAFTA and EMMY award winning Producer, Stewart Mackinnon.
- Bandoola Productions was founded by Simon Sole, former government Intelligence Analyst and founder of Exclusive Analysis and later Senior Intelligence Advisor at a major US corporation, IHS. In 2015 Bandoola Productions financed the very successful CONTAINMENT on the prescient subject of a virus leading to lock down. Bandoola Productions is also in pre-production of a documentary TURNING POINT about the 1944 Battle of Imphal during which the Japanese were prevented from invading India. The company specialises in historical documentaries that reveal surprising facts about well known stories.
UK & South Africa contributors
- Consultant Hlonipha Mokoena, South African historian at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research of the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a specialist in South African intellectual history. She formerly worked in the anthropology department at Columbia University, USA.
- RSA Fellow and Producer, Christine Hartland with NFTS graduates: co-Writer Nathan Hardisty, Editor Robin Whalley, Verna Fields Award winning Sound Designer Kevin Langhammer, RTS Award Winning Production Designer Lauren Elizabeth Taylor, Composer Thomas Ross Fitzsimmons, Studio Director of Photography Chris Orr, Animator David McShane accompanied by Production Manager Ava Cheraghi and International Theatre and Opera Lighting Designer Matt Haskins.
- Producer Tami & Dylan Marriott from Durban based The Edit Room Tami have teamed up with award-winning DOP, Devin Carter, First AC, Gabriel Attwood and First AD Kathlyn Allan.
- Paul Garner is a respected certified Battlefield Guide whose knowledge is based on original historical sources especially those from the Zulu perspective.
- Royal Ballet First Soloist, William Bracewell, who recently starred as Romeo in the Michael Nunn and William Trevitt film Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words, in collaboration with Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist, Kristen McNally.
- South African dancer Muzi Shili (company manager for MID Professional Dance Company, Johannesburg) in collaboration with Choreographer and Casting Director Nhlanhla Mahlungu (vocalist, composer, theatre-maker, dancer, educator, and creative collaborator at The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg).
For more information please contact