How this South African comedian and filmmaker is telling stories that resonate worldwide
A stand up comedian simply has to be a good storyteller. But it's not a foregone conclusion that they can take that talent into film making. Unless you're Kagiso Lediga who has done just that.
A small film about two friends in Pretoria, South Africa, who use their expertise in botany to create a special strain of weed, became one of the top-performing films at the South African box office in January. Written, directed, and produced by comedian Kagiso Lediga, Matwetwewas made for just $150,000 and shot in eight days with a cast of mostly drama students. The film may be local even by South African standards—the cast speaks in Pretorian slang—but its humor and humanity resonated well beyond the capital.
The movie played at international film festivals, and Lediga is talking to distributors about releasing it in other countries. Lediga says he tries to “make these ultraspecific stories that can be relevant with different people” in all his work, including the 2017 Netflix local-language film Catching Feelings, which Lediga wrote, directed, and starred in, and the upcoming series Queen Sono, which is currently in production for the streaming company. The projects are all produced through the Johannesburg-based company Diprente Films, which Lediga cofounded. He honed his skill through years as a black comedian doing stand-up in white comedy clubs. “You’re performing, essentially, for a foreign audience,” he says. “You’re supposed to make them laugh and [be] comfortable without pandering. Being a South African comedian has always been a tightrope walk.”
Take a look at the trailer here and look out for general release outside South Africa