October 7, 2022
Rising South African Director Thati Pele 'Braced' for Big-Screen Debut

Rising South African filmmaker Thati Pele, the director of the hit Netflix teen drama “Blood and Water” and the streamer’s new original series “Savage Beauty,” is preparing her first feature film, which will be produced by the team behind the Oscar-shortlisted LGBTQ drama “The Wound.”

“Brace Yourself” unspools on a failed romantic island getaway, where straitlaced orthodontist Dr. Shaloba Molefe decides to kidnap her unravelling family and won’t let them leave until they love her again. The film is produced by Elias Ribeiro and Cait Pansegrouw for Urucu Media (“The Wound,” “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection”), in co-production with Frank Hoeve, a 2018 EFP Producer on the Move, for the Netherlands’ BALDR Film.

“Brace Yourself” was selected for North American streamer Topic and Statement Films’ program to support, develop and finance projects from female African filmmakers. It was also selected for Thuthuka, a co-development collaboration between the Netherlands Film Fund and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) of South Africa.

“As a feminist, it was pretty impossible for me not to fall in love with Thati and this project,” said Pansegrouw. “They’re both so utterly unique. The story also feels urgent.”

The film’s approach to how South African women straddle the difficult divide between patriarchal tradition and liberal Western modernity, she added, “is unlike anything I’ve read or seen before.”

“Female-driven, sardonic, measured, Black and middle class. We’ve been waiting to see a film like ‘Brace Yourself’ for a very long time,” she said.

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