Laughing at the Dark

Starline Entertainment has boarded “Laughing at the Dark,” a documentary profile of Pieter-Dirk Uys, the South African satirist who skewered apartheid-era attitudes and who was praised by Nelson Mandela.

Uys interviewed Mandela while in character as socialite activist Evita Bezuidenhout. Mandela – who won the Nobel Peace Prize and became South Africa’s president – once described writer-performer Uys as one of his heroes, in footage seen in the film.

Former archbishop Desmond Tutu and actresses Sophia Loren and Charlize Theron pay tribute to Uys in the film, which was helmed by Willem Oelofsen. Cape Town-based shingle Marche Media made the documentary, and pay-TV platform MNet has it for South Africa.

Uys risked his own safety with his performances in the days of apartheid, gaining a following among those seeking change. Today, his work includes raising awareness in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

Starline’s director of acquisitions, Piers Nightingale, negotiated the rights deal with Marche Media’s Jaco Nothnagel, Jaco Smit, and Louis Botha.

“The courage shown by Pieter-Dirk Uys in the face of brutality is nothing short of extraordinary, and ‘Laughing at the Dark’ will appeal to audiences everywhere,” Nightingale said. “We are delighted to be working with Marche Media and can’t wait to bring this truly inspiring documentary to the international market.”

London-based Starline has picked up several profiles of figures in the world of art and entertainment recently, including Sky’s rockumentary on Blondie drummer Clem Burke and a film about opera star Marina Rebeka.

A trailer for “Laughing in  the Dark” shows Tutu and Theron, among others, talking about the life and work of Uys.