‘Lukas’ lands Ster-Kinekor SA

After a spirited premiere at Ster-Kinekor in Windhoek last month, Ombetja Yehinga Organisation’s ‘Lukas’ (2024) is headed to the big screen in South Africa (SA).

The film, which considers the trials and devastating realities of street children in Namibia, is set to run at Ster-Kinekor Grove Mall as well as Maerua Mall from 8 March, with concurrent showings at Ster-Kinekor cinemas in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“We had the premiere of ‘Lukas’ at Ster-Kinekor Grove Mall and the manager, Juan Cronje, previewed the film. He liked it a lot and suggested to share it with the content team in South Africa. The content team reviewed the film and decided to schedule it in SA too,” says ‘Lukas’ director Philippe Talavera.

‘Lukas’, which was supported by the embassy of Germany, will also make its film festival debut at the Coal City Film Festival in Nigeria, as well as at The Black Film Summit (United States) later this month.

“Many African countries struggle with the issue of street children. Despite circumstances being slightly different in Namibia, SA and Nigeria, I think there’s a lot of commonalities,” says Talavera, considering the film’s relatability beyond Namibia.

“’Lukas’ is the story of a child who should have never ended up on the streets. I think that resonates with a lot of people. People can identify with Lukas, with what he goes through, and with his struggles.

“The landscape may be different, but the story is relevant in other countries too.”

While local cinema-goers can watch South African films at Ster-Kinekor, Namibian films rarely, if ever, screen at Ster-Kinekor in South Africa, which makes the achievement of ‘Lukas’ significant and inspiring.

“I think the fact that ‘Lukas’ has a run in SA proves that the local industry has reached a new milestone. We have fantastic actors and great crews. We have beautiful sets. We can be in theatres abroad and not just during festivals, but at the same time as other major films,” says Talavera.

“We are proud of this achievement, because it is the result of years of work. ‘Lukas’ builds on Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) works such as ‘Salute!’, ‘Kukuri’ and ‘Kapana’.

“We’ve spent five weeks rehearsing daily with the actors – especially the children actors. The hard work everybody put in the film is being rewarded,” Talavera says.

‘Lukas’, which is based on a script by Mikiros Garoes, stars Alejandro Cooper, Hernandes Gaonakgosi and Treazurique Titus as the title character as he struggles with life on the streets and in Windhoek in general over a period of 15 years.

Talavera describes ‘Lukas’ as “fiction based on facts” as the film is grounded in a series of interviews with 17 children and young people currently living on the streets, as well as four youngsters who have clashed with law enforcement as a result of their lives on the street.

“The increased number of children living and working on the streets of Windhoek inspired the story. The need to give them a voice, to give them representation, is behind this initiative,” Talavera says.

“We want viewers, in particular those who can make a difference – social workers, teachers, staff from municipalities and various stakeholders – to put a face to these kids.

“But I think we all have a part to play,” says Talavera, who also plans to screen the film at towns such as Gobabis, Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop.

“We hope this film inspires compassion and makes us all realise this is a complex issue we need to address now. They are not just numbers, they are children.”

‘Lukas’ will screen at Ster-Kinekor Namibia and in South Africa from 8 to 14 March.

– martha@namibian.com.na; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com

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