As the sun sets on Saturday March 15, 2014 the amphitheatre at Morija Museum and Archives will host a screening of The Forgotten Kingdom (TFK), a feature film shot in Lesotho and South Africa. The event will be free and open to the public. Join us and see if you can recognise which scenes were filmed in Morija!
Morija is the last stop on the TFK road show, which has offered free screenings around Lesotho at locations where filming took place in 2011, often with the crowd watching scenes shot in the very place in which they were standing. For the past few weeks the communities of Semonkong, St. Michael’s, Ha Seetsa, Mokhotlong, Sefikeng, Koalabata, and Malealea have enjoyed screenings, with Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek left to see the film before finishing in Morija. Visit TFK’s Facebook page for photos from each location.
Join the event on Facebook, and look for The Forgotten Kingdom in cinemas in Lesotho starting April 4, 2014 and in South Africa from April 11, 2014!
Atang leaves the hustle of Johannesburg to return to his ancestral land of Lesotho, where he must bury his estranged father in the remote, mountainous village where he was born. Stirred by memories of his youth, he falls in love with his childhood friend, Dineo, now a radiant young school teacher. Through her, Atang is drawn toward the mystical beauty and hardships of the people and land he had forgotten.
Length: 96 Minutes
Language: Sesotho (English subtitles)
Written and Directed by Andrew Mudge
Vast and rugged landscapes. Horsemen wrapped in blankets moving through snow peaked valleys. Thatched-hut villages lost in time. In The Forgotten Kingdom, I wanted to make a film that was primarily visual, told through the colors of the land and the faces of the Basotho people. My own experience of discovering this mostly overlooked country called Lesotho was like finding something exquisitely beautiful and unique. I wanted to convey that experience to an audience through the journey of the main character, Atang Mokoenya. This is a man who unwillingly experiences a life transformation when he returns to a place that had he long ago chosen to forget. He meets a radiant young woman, Dineo, a spark from his past, and the subsequent events anchor him to his homeland in a mystical way. The characters he meets, from the nameless orphan boy to the old woman afflicted by a witch doctor’s curse—they are mirrors to Atang’s inner journey. The lyrical, allegorical style of storytelling I pplied was inspired by films such as John Sayles’s Men With Guns, David Lynch’s The Straight Story, and Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout.
My intention was to take on a classical approach to the directing and cinematography of this film. Except for the kinetic opening sequence that takes place in Hillbrow (Johannesburg), most of the cinematography is in static shots or on slow dollys. I was interested in creating a quiet, meditative tone that parallels the character arc of the protagonist.
Authenticity was always of the highest priority to me. The story is fictional, but it represents a common scenario whereby Basotho men leave their homeland to seek employment in Johannesburg, the “city of gold.” Often these men only return when they are brought back to be buried. I spent nearly a year living in Lesotho before filming, collecting stories from the people, many of who gave valuable feedback to keep the story culturally genuine. Despite financial incentives for filming in South Africa, I never considered making this movie anywhere but in Lesotho. It was never an option to have the characters speak anything but the native Sesotho dialect.
The film is a universal story, but it is told from a unique perspective. My producers and I embraced the challenges of making a feature film in a country with mostly rough dirt roads, no professional actors, and no film industry (yet!).The Forgotten Kingdom is the first feature film produced in Lesotho. Like all journeys, it was a voyage into the great unknown.