The life of Cape Town born pop music icon Brenda Fassie will be immortalised in film. Showbizbee, a UK-based film production company, announced on Wednesday that it had acquired the rights to produce the story of Fassie, one of South Africa’s greatest musicians.
The film will be written and directed by Edward Shaw with a script based on a story by her son Bongani to be released this year.
“My mother Brenda has been surrounded by controversy in her life and even after her death,” Bongani Fassie said in a statement. “It is with great excitement that we have partnered with Showbizbee Film Productions to make the Brenda Fassie movie for Box Office release.
“I’m particularly eager to participate in the production as (Co-Executive producer) so that the real story of my mom comes alive to the people of South Africa and the world.”
Fassie was born in Langa in Cape Town and was named after the American singer Brenda Lee.
In 1981, at the age of 16, she left Cape Town for Soweto, Johannesburg, to become a professional singer. She first joined the vocal group Joy and later became the lead singer for a group called Brenda and the Big Dudes.
Fassie was outspoken about the political turmoil in South Africa in the 80s and became the voice of the poor and disenfranchised living in the townships. Her best-known hits are “Weekend Special”, “Black President”, “Too Late for Mama” and “Vulindlela”. She was dubbed “The Madonna of the Townships” by Time magazine in 2001.
“With Brenda, writer-director Edward W Shaw is doing a remarkable job. He has created a totally relatable story that is both fresh and new,” Showbizbee said in a statement.
“The screenplay is surprising precise, a warm human story. It is our good fortune to be working with a great team. We are confident the public will embrace Brenda.”
The film will spotlight Fassie’s journey from Langa to Soweto where she rose to stardom.
On 26 April 2004, Fassie collapsed at her home in Johannesburg and was admitted into hospital. The post-mortem report revealed that she had taken an overdose of cocaine on the night of her collapse, and slipped into a coma.
She died aged 39, on 9 May 2004, in hospital without returning to consciousness after her life support machines were turned off.