Stage to screen political thriller ASKARI goes to cinemas this month

By CityLife Arts Writer

Based on true events, ASKARI, the new political thriller about freedom fighters who became double agents and deadly assassins for the infamous Vlakplaas is set to release in Ster-Kinekor Theatres (SKT) cinemas on 22 April 2022. The anticipated release of this stage-to-screen film, directed by award-winning Director Sello Maseko who co-wrote it with Mdu Nhlapo, is hot on the heels of two Naledi Theatre Awards nominations (Best Script & Choreography) from its stage debut at the South African State Theatre (SAST), where it was filmed last year.

ASKARI tells the story of men and women who infiltrated organised civic movements and student organisations for recruiting unsuspecting youth and influential leaders. The story interrogates the decisions that led to their choice of turning from insurgencies to counter insurgencies, from community activists to mass killers. ASKARI delves deep into the personal accounts of these individuals who administered pain, fear, and death. These stories of betrayal and death, redemption and forgiveness, are told through moving dance, music, and powerful storytelling.

The production features actors: Soyiso Ndaba, Abongile Matyutyu, Tiaan Slabbert, Monica Muller, Xolani Nhlapo, Kagiso Matlala, Eutychia Rakaki, Tshepiso Madikoane, Gorata Mathebula, Thembi Ngwenya and Muzi Masikane. It is produced by the SAST in association with Mantimakhulu PTY LTD.

Commenting on the creation of ASKARI, Maseko recalls: “In 2019 I was invited to be part of the delegation that visited the notorious farm at Vlakplaas. I saw a lonely and quite farmhouse on an empty tract of land, sad outbuildings and the vengeful interrogation rooms and the tearful graves of those who met their end in the hands of the state sponsored death squad.

Forty  years ago, the farm housed a group of people called ASKARI. 40 years ago, the farm administered pains, fear, miseries, uncertainty, and death. The film honours those heroes and heroines whose lives perished in the torture chambers of Vlakplaas.”

“As a historian and storyteller, I saw it fit to make my contribution in the truth reconciliation project. The story of these foot soldiers of apartheid whose job description was to kill needed to be told and I had to be the one telling it. To deal with souls that are roaming around searching for peaceful rest is not an easy task. This action-packed story is part of truth and reconciliation program to help communities heal and move on,” says Maseko.

ASKARI’s screening is part of the game-changing collaboration between the SAST and SKT to exhibit theatre content in cinema which started in July last year. The film will show from 22 April to 15 May 2022 in SKT cinemas including Newtown, Rosebank Nouveau (Johannesburg), Musgrave (Durban), Sterland, Brooklyn Nouveau (Pretoria), Baywest (Gqeberha), Broardwalk, (Port Elizabeth) and Tygervalley, (Cape Town).

Tickets can be purchased on SKT cinemas and website on website

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