When a South African photographer sets out to capture images of his people as a means to dispel stereotypes…he runs into Ayanda, a young South African woman who has lost her life’s anchor and mentor through the most tragic circumstances imaginable. As a result, her family and their lives have been in a holding pattern.
Set in the vibrant community of Yeoville, where African migrants come from across the continent live and fuelled by the electric energy and ethnic diversity of 21st century Johannesburg, AYANDA tells the story of a young woman whose dreams of running a retro car restoration business are threatened by dark family secrets, the complications of love and the challenges of day-to-day life.
Since the death of Ayanda’s father – in his beloved garage – Ayanda’s mother Dorothy has resisted having anything to do with the business, harbouring guilt over her husband’s death. When Ayanda’s ‘Uncle’ Zama, who part-owns the garage, announces at the business is in severe debt and it’s time to sell, Dorothy, quietly relieved, agrees.
For me, AYANDA and The Mechanic is a film about Life – Legacy – Love…posing the question of “When do you stop dreaming”?
Life – Eight years after her Dad’s death, everyone in the family attempts to move on. Her Mom (Nthati Moshesh) runs a local laundromat, her brother has become an alcoholic, her Dad’s business partner Zama (Kenneth Nkosi) has stepped in becoming a pseudo father/head-of-household and Ayanda (Fulu Moguvhani) naturally has followed in her her father’s footsteps of becoming an amazing mechanic.
Legacy – Faced with having to sell the garage due to the immense debt that incurred after his death, Ayanda hatches a plan to re-model cars to come up with the $30,000 in order to save the property. When she auctions off the cars and makes $45,000, all the masks fall off and secrets are revealed that no one wants to acknowledge.
Love – In order to find love for herself, Ayanda abandons the love she has for her man – David, (O.C. Ukeje), her family and the garage to find much needed love for herself. Like the nickname her Dad gave her “Butterfly” – Ayanda will now decides to explore the opportunity to spread her wings and fly onto her next adventure guilt free.
In this instance, the word “mechanic” takes on a whole new meaning. For Ayanda, the mechanics of manuvering the ghost of her Dad, her feelings for David and adjusting to feelings of self-discovery as a young woman struggling to come into her own identity all seem to weave themselves into a very complicated web.
So, in a quest to find portraits of his country reflecting a more positive image, the photographer stumbles onto so much more and I, for one am elated that he did!
The performances of all of these actors are extraordinary, but the emotional palette displayed by Fulu Moguvhani is a marvel to experience.
Ayanda and The Mechanic had it’s World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this year.