When Hollywood calls, Marian de Pontes answers! South African native film director Marian de Pontes takes the international film festival circuit by storm with the mission to tell impactful African female stories that are inclusive and diverse.

Currently residing in Los Angeles, California, and being mentored by Cassian Elwes, producer of titles such as Dallas Buyers Club and Mudbound, and shadowing Television director Tucker Gates (Homeland/ Bates Motel) all while working as a director in the heart of Hollywood. This female director is passionate about using the medium of film to tell thought-provoking stories that create the space for important conversations. Marian’s most prominent film Etana, a story inspired by a New York Times article on child soldiers in South Sudan, is her greatest international triumph to date and has earned her a finalist position at the renowned 2021 USA Film Festival and an official selection of the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival.

Marian de Pontes is A University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa Film Production graduate who qualified top of her class and received a fellowship to one of the top 4 film schools in the world, Chapman University. While at Chapman, Marian was a selected as a Woman of Chapman Scholar and was mentored by renowned Hollywood Producer Edward Saxon (Silence of the Lambs). Following in the footsteps of other prominent South African directors working in international mainstream cinema, including Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Wolverine), Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie) and Jann Turner (TV’s Castle, Teen Wolf) with the winning of the prestigious Horizon Award in 2021 which partners with The Sundance Institute, HBO, and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation to recognize female filmmakers.

Marian is soon becoming known for her desire and aim to create films with diverse and inclusive voices, to tell female and African stories that have an impact on the ways people think about their approach to each other and the world. Marian’s ambition is to create films with diverse and inclusive voices. “I love to make films about the most inspiring people I know, badass women.”

Born and raised by two highly scientific and hardworking parents. Science was an “every day” for Marian, but art and film always snuck their way in. Following an unpredictable career in the arts is a very brave and intimidating path especially when you’re in South Africa and a long way from the heart of filmmaking in Hollywood.

Marian owes her success to taking calculated risks, not being easily deterred, and her love for a challenge. She has politely ignored the people who have tried to convince her to take the easier road – “The best response to someone who tries to obstruct you is to smile sweetly and make your kick-ass movie.” With Hollywood mentors backing this South African director, and with multiple awards and nominations under her belt, it is easy to say that her approach and perspective are paying off.

“The ability to believe in yourself and say, I want to find out if I can actually do this or not. These are the mindsets that really helped me.”

With Science Fiction as her genre of choice, Marian is most interested and excited about the evolution of the genre with real science for the future. Marian is working on two science-fiction features, one set in South Africa and one set in space. When filming opens again in LA Marian will be prepping and filming another short film towards the end of the year.

Keep a lookout and stay tuned for compelling stories, directed by a bold voice through the powerful medium of film on the world-class Hollywood stage – Marian de Pontes is just getting started.

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