The film, which mocks the freaky state of South African politics, tells the story of Wonder Boy, a charismatic and authoritative young man from the Eastern Cape, who is forced into running for president by two dubious and corrupt characters. Their aim is to mould him into a great politician and then manufacture his downfall at the right time, for the right price.
But Wonder Boy proves to be everything that people say of him. He is magnetic, convincing and loved. He’s also committed to improving the lives of everyday people in South Africa. Brutus and Shakes (Ntosh Madlingozi and Tony Miyambo) have their work cut out for them trying to control the wildly popular and politically adventurous Wonder Boy.
Against this backdrop of political chaos, Wonder Boy falls for the official opposition’s Mbali Sithole. When their romance is exposed by ruthless journalist Kerry Mercer, things start to fall apart for the people’s hero.
“Wonder Boy for President pulls no punches and packs in the laughs throughout,” says Barker. “The film is a hard-hitting and deeply funny political satire that delves into political dynamics and the challenges unique to the crazy world of South African politics.”
Barker and Lediga are no strangers to the local entertainment scene. Barker made his directorial debut with the award-winning comedy Bunny Chow, with Lediga as a writer and co-lead in the film.
Thishiwe Ziqubu, who gripped audiences with her smouldering lead in Hard to Get, which opened the Durban International Film Festival in 2014, plays Mbali Sithole, the ambitious young leader of the official opposition, and the love interest in this rollicking satire. Others in the cast include John Vlismas as Emeric “the dodgy dude with a gun,” Akin Omotoso as “a political correspondent”, Loyiso Gola as himself and Barker as a “dodgy construction guy”.
“We were blessed to have a whole bunch of South Africa’s top comedians collaborate with us on the film,” says Barker. “At a time when the rand-dollar exchange rates have dampened the mood of the country, and amid all the doom and gloom in the media about government corruption, greed and cronyism, it was fabulous to make a film to parody the current times, make us take a deep long look at the absurdity of it all, and laugh.”
Additional cast members include David Kibuuka, Zabalaza Mchunu, Lara Lipschitz, Bryan Van Niekerk, Christopher Steenkamp, Camilo Saloojee, Daniel Friedman, Ntokozo Majozi, Tshepo Mogale, Lazola Gola, Robbie Collins, Mary Twala and Mojak Lehoko. “There are also some well-known faces that play themselves,” explains Barker. “These include President Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Mmusi Maimane, Floyd Shivambu, Cyril Ramaphosa, Zwelinzima Vavi, Helen Zille, and Zapiro.”
The film, produced through a Barking Rat Film in association with Dog Pack Collective, was produced by Barker and Lediga, and co-produced by Tammy Lewis-Houghting and Jeremy Nathan. It will be released on circuit on July 29 by Indigenous Film Distribution. The script is by Barker, Camillo Saloojee, Christopher Steenkamp and Saki Bergh. Most of the music has been composed and performed by Durban band Thee Legacy, led by Jabulani Mthembu.