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#OnTheBigScreen: The Mauritanian, Boss Level, Persian Lessons and Raya and the Last Dragon

Four films open at the South African box office, this weekend. They include The Mauritanian, Boss Level, Persian Lessons and Raya and the Last Dragon.

The Mauritanian

A remarkable true story of an extraordinary man whose humanity triumphed, leaving those around him profoundly changed.
It follows the remarkable true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) who was captured by the US government and imprisoned for years without trial at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). It is an inspiring account of survival against all odds as Slahi, in his fight for freedom, finds allies in defence attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley).

Through Nancy and Teri’s controversial advocacy and evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), a shocking and far-reaching conspiracy is revealed. The Mauritanian Is a commentary on the importance of the rule of law and extremism of all kinds but is also a tender, funny, uplifting film about Mohamedou, an extraordinary man.
Filmed extensively in Paarl, with other sections of the same composite set on the beach at Strandfontein, which closely resembles the location of the real bay and the real camp in Guantanamo.
Kevin Macdonald (Last King Of Scotland) directed from a screenplay penned by MB Traven, and Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani (The Informer).
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Boss Level

From the zany mindscape of acclaimed filmmaker Joe Carnahan – writer-director of Narc, Smokin’ Aces and The Grey – comes a unique and mind-blowing kick-ass action thriller with heart.

Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), a former Delta Force captain, is mysteriously stuck in a time loop, which he discovers has some connection to his ex-wife Dr Jemma Wells (Naomi Watts), a brilliant scientist employed by Col. Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson). When Roy becomes an unwitting part of Ventor’s plan to use a powerful machine called the Osiris Spindle, he’s attacked day after day by an array of assassins sent out by Ventor’s head of security Brett Dynow (Will Sasso) — who all keep coming after Roy on the same day, in the same way, because every time Roy gets killed he immediately wakes up as he did last time.
But with each ‘attempted kill,’ Roy gathers more clues to the terrifying truth. On his way to stop it all, he discovers a bridge that could help him bond with his 11-year-old son, Joe (Rio Grillo), who would rather play competitive first-person-fighter video games than go to school.
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Persian Lessons

A profoundly powerful story of hope and friendship among the unlikeliest in the unlikeliest circumstances.
This Holocaust drama highlights the use of creative thinking, memory and intelligence by a Belgian Jew Gilles (Nahuel Perez Biscayart from Beats Per Minute) in his survival tactic against his Nazi imprisoners. He narrowly avoids execution by a Nazi firing squad when he claims to be Persian. Desperate to save himself, he offers to teach Farsi — a language he does not know — to the head of the camp, played by German star Lars Eidinger (Clouds of Sils Maria).

Through an ingenious trick, Gilles manages to survive by inventing words of ‘Farsi’ every day and teaching them to Koch. The particular relationship between the two men sparks the jealousy of other prisoners and SS guards towards Gilles. And while the suspicions of Koch grow every day, Gilles understands that he will not be able to keep his secret very long.
Canadian director Vadim Perelman (House of Sand and Fog) directed from a script by Ilya Zofin, based on the story Erfindung Einer Sprache by Wolfgang Kohlhaase.
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Raya and the Last Dragon

An epic animated adventure set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where long ago humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and unite its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world — it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

It features an outstanding voice cast, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Jona Xiao, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk,
Gordon Ip, Dichen Lachman, Patti Harrison, Jon ‘Dumbfoundead’ Park, Sung Kang, Sierra Katow, Ross Butler, François Chau and Paul Yen.
Raya and the Last Dragon is helmed by Don Hall, director of Disney’s Academy Award-winning Big Hero 6, and Carlos López Estrada, whose feature film directorial debut was the critically acclaimed Blindspotting. Award-winning playwright and writer Qui Nguyen (Vietgone, She Kills Monsters) and Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians, Private Practice) crafted the screenplay.
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Read more about the latest and upcoming film releases.

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