Happiness is a Four-Letter Word’ is an example of the growth of Black Cinema
Black-centric films such as the French film, Girlhood, and the Ethiopian film, Lamb, both made splashes at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and 2015 respectively and next film that could join this list next year is the South African film, Happiness is a Four Letter-Word, as first reported by Shadow and Act.
An adaptation of Cynthia Jele’s breakthrough novel, the film follows the lives of three Black women living out their dreams. Mmabatho Montsho plays Nandi, a lawyer and perfectionist, Khanyi Mbau plays Zaza, who lives the high life as a trophy wife, and Renate Stuurman is Princess, a trend-setting art gallery owner. While all three support each other and have everything they could ask for, they learn happiness runs deeper than a successful exterior. The film is directed by Thabang Moleya.
Jele, won the 2011 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region and the 2011 M-Net Literary prize in her native South Africa. The South African National Film and Video Foundation is helping finance and produce the film, making a conscious effort to cultivate Black talent and celebrate diversity. Although the narrative focuses on South African culture, there’s still a universality about the premise of the film.
With the film industry more interconnected, there’s good reason to believe that the South African film scene can experience their variation of new wave cinema. Happiness is a Four-Letter Word can very well be the film that leads the charge.