White Wedding

White Wedding

Jodie Whittaker in WHITE WEDDING.

White Wedding (2009/2010)

Opened: 09/03/2010 Limited


Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: South African Romantic Comedy (In English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


Set against South Africa's beautifully varied landscapes, this high-spirited comedy is a feelgood movie about love, commitment, intimacy, friendship and all the maddening obstacles that can get in the way of a happy ending. The film is a forward looking farce set in the new South African cultural mixing pot, as the nation strives to be defined as more than their shared political history.

Ayanda (Zandile Msutwana) is just days away from her lifelong dream of a modern 'white wedding,' complete with a dazzling dress, dozens of bridesmaids, a flamboyant wedding planner and large reception at a fancy hotel. The only problem is that her husband-to-be, the sweet, committed Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi), is 1,800 kilometers away with his childhood friend and best-man Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo).

What should be a simple, straightforward trip gets seriously derailed, forcing Elvis, Tumi and Rose (Jodie Whittaker), a footloose English doctor they meet along the way, to tackle directional mishaps, car accidents, a tag-along goat, and a potentially dangerous encounter with a bar full of redneck Afrikaners.

Meanwhile, poor Ayanda is watching her dream unravel as she wrestles with problems of her own -- from questioning whether there's any truth to Elvis' preposterous excuses of why he might not arrive on time, being caught between European and African wedding traditions and dealing with the unexpected arrival of Tony (Mbulelo Grootboom), her slick old boyfriend with a questionable agenda. In the end, the two lovers learn that celebrating their union is more about the journey than getting to the church on time.

Getting to the Church: The Making of White Wedding

WHITE WEDDING is a simple story with a familiar structure told with unfamiliar characters in the spectacular and ever changing modern South Africa.

In 1998, actors Rapulana Seiphemo and Kenneth Nksoi worked on the local South African soap opera ISIDINGO, directed by Jann Turner and the three became friends. In 2002, they decided to travel by road from Johannesburg to Cape Town for the holidays in Jann's Land Cruiser. "On the journey we talked about romantic relationships, friendships and films. From time to time we stopped in little towns like Phillipolis, and Colesburg," explains Kenneth Nkosi. While the sight of two black men and a white woman may no longer turn heads in the city, it still can cause consternation in the more rural parts of the country.

"It was a very weird experience," says Nkosi. "This planted the seed of the idea. When Raps (Rapulana) went to the restroom in one of these towns he saw the sign: 'White Men Only.' We thought what country are we in? Have things not changed? We felt compelled to write about it, but in a humorous way."

A lot of the funniest scenes are based on actual experience. "On the road trip we would laugh at situations where people came over to see if I was O.K.," says Turner. "I had an experience in Johannesburg which translated into the scene in the bar," adds Nkosi. "I was in a bad mood that day and there was only one place at the bar next to an Afrikaner who said he didn't want to sit next to "Kaffirs" (Black South Africans) and that I had taken his country. I challenged the guy in a friendly way, then I bought him a drink and befriended him."

WHITE WEDDING is a "foreign language" film in that the characters converse in the mixture of several languages that South Africans know and use – in particular English, Afrikaans, Tswana, Zulu and Township Taal (a mix of different languages). South Africans often use language to identify as well as to include and exclude one another and the filmmakers felt it was important to include this in the film.

Although the film didn't set out to have a specific message, WHITE WEDDING is groundbreaking in depicting a modern, current take on South Africa. "The three of us grew up during Apartheid and our early lives were focused on work that related to our changing society, with subject matter that was often of necessity very dark and heavy. For a long time now we've wanted to get away from the past and do something about who we are now," says Turner.

"With WHITE WEDDING we set out to make a movie that lots of people would want to watch. We are unashamedly in the business of entertainment. Nevertheless, it is about South Africans and the way we react to one another with so much prejudice and baggage. If you're forced to meet by circumstance like the people in the film and you see beyond the accent or the white or the black face then you discover the humanity and the similarities in one another and get over the intolerance. It sounds terribly grand but it only made sense in retrospect. We didn't set out to make a film about our common humanity, we set out to entertain."

In the end, WHITE WEDDING hopes to define a new generation of South African cinema that brings black and white audiences to the big screen and makes them feel good about themselves.