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Friday, August 31, 2012
Sal Masekela feature film in works

By Keith Hamm

Sal Masekela performs with his band 'Alekesam' at a screening of his documentary at Sonos Studios in Los Angeles. A feature film inspired by the documentary is nearing production.
The relationship between X Games host Sal Masekela and his musician father, Hugh Masekela, is heading toward the art-imitates-life realm with the announcement that a feature film is in the works.

Headed up by Olympus Pictures, the untitled Masekela project is "the story of a son emerging out of the shadow of his successful but troubled father and set against a backdrop of music, surfing and the waning days of Apartheid," according to the production company's website.

"I always wanted to make a film about apartheid from an American perspective. While I wasn't raised in South Africa, my father's exile as a result of apartheid directly influenced my life growing up as a young American teenager. Music and surfing coupled with my dad and I learning how to be father and son will be the thread," Sal Masekela said.

Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, cofounder of Highway 61 Entertainment, is also listed as a producer, with Olympus president Leslie Urdang.

"I first met Sal when he was a teenager working with his father on [Paul Simon's] 'Graceland' tour," said Urdang. "We met again many years later, and the riveting narrative is a father-son story filled with surprise, danger, bravery, forgiveness, and lots of music."

Jazz great Hugh Masekela -- exiled from his native South Africa as his music chronicled the conflicts of Apartheid during the 1950s and '60s -- had an on-again, off-again relationship with son Sal. Their troubles and eventual reconciliation entered the public spotlight earlier this year as the 30-minute documentary "Alekesam" made the film festival rounds.

"This portrait of a father and son has every emotion you could possibly ask for as a filmmaker," said the documentary's director, Jason Bergh, who is also Sal Masekela's creative partner at UX Entertainment. "Any part of this story will be an absolutely stunning film. Having people like Paul Haggis, Leslie Urdang and a wonderful writer-director such as Mukunda Michael Dewil on board is an amazing start. Their track records are extremely bright."

Sal Masekela recently hosted a screening "Alekesam" and a performance by his band, also called Alekesam, at Sonos Studios in Los Angeles, Calif.

"The Sonos show was a special night. It was great to finally do a friends and family, tastemaker screening of the film in LA and play some songs off the album with my band," said Sal Masekela.