Arrested Industries, the UK/US content development, financing and production company run by Anthony Kimble, has announces a new project with long-term collaborator Helena Spring Films, producer of Poppie Nongena and Yesterday.

The pair have acquired the rights to Jojo: Finally Home, the memoir from Strictly Come Dancing professional Johannes Radebe and will now be going into development on a family feature film, which Anthony Kimble and Helena Spring will produce, with Johannes (Jojo) Radebe on board as executive producer and choreographer.

The film, Finally Home (working title), will closely follow the book in which Jojo shares the experiences and challenges he’s faced – from growing up in Zamdela, a township in South Africa, as a young boy with a passion for dance – and Barbies – to becoming the star he is today. He started life in poverty, lost his father as a child and faced adversity from a deeply prejudiced community. However, his hard work and the fierce support of his mother and sister, as well as the backing of a dance coach who spotted his gift, helped transform his life and gave him a tool to express himself…leading to his life as an international celebrity.

Finally Home is not being developed as a musical, but it will be a “joyous, funny and ultimately upbeat film packed with heart, great music, wonderful costumes and big dance numbers – in a similar vein to popular films such as Strictly Ballroom, The Fully Monty, Then We Danced and Billy Elliot.”

Anthony Kimble, CEO of Arrested Industries says: “Jojo’s memoir was one of my favourite books of last year, so I am delighted to now have this opportunity and work alongside Helena to develop it for the screen. At its core, his story is a hugely heartwarming coming-of-age tale, but it also conveys so many interesting themes around identity, acceptance, community and, of course, family. Our ambition is to do the book – and Jojo – justice by producing a bold, colourful and thoroughly entertaining film that leaves audiences of all ages with big smiles on their faces. And, as Jojo has agreed to be part of the team, we should readily be able to fully infuse the film with his immense warmth and winning personality.”

Helena Spring adds: “South Africa is increasingly becoming a go-to location for international film and TV, with the world recognizing that we not only have a skilled talent base but also so many brilliant stories to tell. Finally Home, while clearly an incredible personal story, will also provide insights into contemporary culture in South Africa and portray facets of community life in the townships that are rarely seen on screen.”

Johannes Radebe says: “Growing up gay in the townships of South Africa was not an easy ride, but there were so many good things about my life there, and it has made me the person I am today. I never imagined my story would end up on the big screen, so I am greatly appreciative of this new opportunity and look forward to working closely with Helena and Anthony over the coming months.”

Johannes Radebe is represented by Antony Read at Olivia Bell Management. Jojo: Finally Home was published by Hodder & Stoughton in September 2023.

picture: © Elliott Wilcox

Jon Creamer

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