Noah's Ark is a South African mini-series created by Busi Ntintili and Werner Cloete and produced by Sidewalk Productions and Born Free Media, about a Xhosa doctor who loves his family but can't shake the memory of the beautiful Afrikaans girl he once loved 30 years ago.
When the love child he never knew suddenly turns up in his life, the past and present converge in an emotional collision that will challenge everything he's ever known.
Noah's Ark premiered on SABC2 on Tuesday 29 July 2008, at 19h30. There are four hour-long episodes in the series.
Amidst an idyllic setting of Jacaranda lined streets and boomed gates, a prestigious Xhosa family struggle to reconcile their own personal truths with the superficial truths of bourgeoisie suburban life in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The fast-paced, sometimes jaded, always ambitious world of northern Johannesburg is the setting in which this sophisticated family drama unfolds.
This is a place where status matters, where a Mercedes Benz isn't a Mercedes Benz unless it is the latest model, where gym membership has replaced church membership for many an African household, where weekend visits to the spa and European holidays are the norm.
It is within this landscape that the Mokoena family navigate through the murky terrain of their lives.
Patriarch Moses Mokoena runs a successful private doctor's practice, tending to the physical care of money-spoiled and love-starved patients in his General Practice.
Matriarch Linda Mokoena runs her own equally successful private Psychology Practice, tending to the mental care of bored housewives, passionless businessmen, and cheating husbands and wives.
Children Uhuru and Grace Mokoena are overachieving, ambitious and spoiled by their parents. For the Mokoena family, it certainly seems like life couldn't be better.
Living in the new South Africa, in a beautiful suburb, with all the opportunities that this new democracy has to offer, and everything their hearts desire. The Mokoena family lead the perfect life, right?
In Noah's Ark, the struggle has shifted from the political to the personal for our protagonist, Moses Mokoena - an expat, former activist who has since become a successful doctor with a successful wife and successful over-achieving daughters.
But what lies on the surface doesn't always mirror what lies underneath...
Moses (50) and Linda (48) have a good life together. However, without even realizing it, they have drifted apart. They are both very focused on their careers and don't really make time for each other. Caught up in their own lives and problems they both think that their two daughters are fine.
However, they're not: Uhuru (26) suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after she was hijacked and finds it hard to connect with people. Grace (18) leads a double life - during the day she volunteers at a shelter for street children. At night she is the party girl, getting more and more involved with drugs.
And the parents aren't faring much better. Linda, the composed therapist, is harbouring a secret from her family, that she has been diagnosed with cancer. And Moses harbours a secret attachment to the first woman he ever loved: a young Afrikaans girl by the name of Ilse Crawford.
Linda doesn't know anything about Ilse, their shared past or the fact that Moses still thinks of her from time to time. And Moses doesn't know that when he left South Africa all those years ago, Ilse was six weeks pregnant with his son.
Noah's Ark tells the story of how South African families are redefining their lives within an ever-changing, sweet-and-sour post-apartheid South Africa. Once the political struggle was won, many South African families didn't know how to live in peace.
Moses and his wife are on the verge of divorce, but they still love each other. His two daughters find themselves lost in a new South Africa of seemingly endless opportunities and Noah, his lost son, is in search of an identity that he never knew was his.
And through all of this, Noah's character is the metaphor of the power of family love and his symbolic 'ARK' represents family, starting over, dreams, hopes, the past, the future and, finally, promise.
Through six strong characters, Noah's Ark explores dramatic issues that many South African families face; issues of grieving, of midlife crises, of hopelessness and of the hope that shines strong through even the darkest times.
Moses Mokoena is starting a jazz club with his old varsity friends but his wife is not happy about this and thinks it is a bad investment.
Meanwhile, Uhuru is up for a promotion at work while her younger sister Grace gets an ultimatum from her parents to either get a job or they will stop supporting her.
While the Mokoena family cope with their own domestic issues, a young man named Noah Crawford drives from Cape Town to Johannesburg in search of a father he never knew, Moses.
Before reaching his destination, Noah is involved in a car accident and winds up in hospital in a coma.
Moses struggles to deal with the news that he has a grown son he never knew about, Noah. His confusion is further exacerbated by the arrival of Noah's mother Ilse Crawford to town, and with her old feelings from their love affair some 30 years ago.
Linda, who has no idea about Noah's existence, is in a world of her own, planning her big book launch and dealing with the cancer that she has been keeping a secret from her family.
And Uhuru is also dealing with a secret of her own - that she is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome after a hijacking.
Grace decides to take a job as a counsellor at a volunteer centre but meets a young street boy who sees right through her good girl act. And Noah fights for his life in a hospital bed.
Linda feels alienated to her husband by the arrival of Noah and Ilse Crawford in Moses' life. Things only get worse for Linda when she discovers emails that Moses has been sending to Ilse and she asks Moses to move out of the house.
Moses' only hope is his jazz club, but things turn tragic when his business partner's dodgy dealings causes the demise of the club. Moses seeks solace from Ilse and through their shared pain over a hopsitalized Noah, they find comfort and the old flames of romance are ignited between them again.
Grace tries to ingratiate herself to the street child from her community centre, but meanwhile Grace's romantic involvement with a bad boy turns dangerous when he spikes her drink with drugs.
And Uhuru starts coming apart at the seams as the stress from her possible job promotion and her post traumatic stress syndrome start to take their toll.
Throughout all this, Moses begins to lose faith that Noah will ever wake up from his coma.
Grace is taken to hospital after her drug overdose and Linda blames Moses for their family coming apart at the seams. When Linda learns of Moses' infidelity with Ilse, she tells him she wants a divorce.
Moses confronts his dishonest business partner and friend, while also trying to confront his own dishonesty in his marriage.
Grace picks up the pieces of her life following her drug overdose and realises a deeper purpose in life than just partying and hanging out with friends. Uhuru is finally forced to confront her pain and grief following her hijacking.
Moses is shocked to finally learn of his wife's cancer.
At a crossroads, Moses is forced to choose between a past that no longer exists and a possible future with the woman that he loves. But which woman will that be?
Noah's life, still hanging in the balance, takes a dramatic and climactic turn.
[For Main Cast, see below]
Young Ilse Crawford ... Alex Halligey
5-year-old Noah ... TJ Matthews
Grietjie ... Chrisna Hattingh
Other Grietjie ... Khanya Mkangisa
Thandi ... Jabulile Mahlambi
Sipho ... Elgin Maloka
Precious/Domestic ... Tinah Mnumzana
Abel/Gardener ... Fats Bookholane
Nurse 1 ... Maggie Williams
Rose ... Rozanne McKenzie
Geoff ... Daniel Janks
Sarah/Patient ... Irene Stephanou
Sally/ Neighbour ... Dianne Simpson
Dr Hirsch ... Thorsten Wedekind
Nurse 2 ... Zanele Mdluli
Physchologist ... Phyllis Ndlovu
Kgomotso/Patient ... Bathabile Mashigo
Guest 1 ... Kimberleigh Stark
Guest ... Sam Phillips
Interviewer 1 ... Moshoeshoe Chabeli
Photographer ... Lebo Mphahlele
Security Guard ... Lesego Mokolobate
The family house, a beautiful old home in an exclusive leafy northern suburb of Johannesburg, where Moses and his wife Linda both run their medical practices and the children live.
Also, the hospital, which features strongly as place of tragedy, hopelessness and ultimately hope and redemption for the characters in the story.
While the family house, which should represent safety, becomes the place of secrets and upheaval, the hospital, which is normally associated with anxiousness and pain, becomes the place of safety, truth and ultimately healing.
Also: Uhuru's office, Grace's community centre, Moses' jazz club and miscellaneous location shoots.
The production was shot entirely on location, during August and September 2007, taking advantage of digital filmmaking camera and editing technology to create a naturalistic and sophisticated film look.
The look and feel of the story reflects the sophisticated, slick and urbane feel of the world of northern Johannesburg, with the contrasting greys and browns of the city centre and the street children standing at corners with cardboard signs, that highlight how poverty is never far away from the sheltered opulence of northern Joburg dwellers.
Colour is a powerful motif in representing the individual character's own internal worlds. For instance, Moses's character mirrors his love of jazz - that soothing, warm gold-toned evocation of jazz music, and his den is warm and full of yellows, red and oranges.
On the other hand, his wife Linda is cool and collected and her office reflects that with white walls, blue and grey furniture, all cool colours.
Music is another important device in the story. The overall feel of subtle sophistication is enhanced by the jazz-inspired soundtrack, adding cool punctuation to the story.
The jazz soundtrack also highlights the journey of Moses, who is a self-professed jazz fundi, combining his love of international jazz with his childhood influences by the Sophiatown era in which he grew up and his later appreciation of South African greats while he was abroad, such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Moses Khumalo, and Hugh Masekela.
And finally the motif of Noah's Ark is the major overriding visual technique to tie the story together and bind the four episodes of the mini-series.
In the biblical story, Noah and his family hunkered down in an ark for 40 days and 40 nights while the earth was flooded by rains. In this story, the arrival of rain signals the arrival of conflict in the lives of our characters.
At the onset of the story, it is bright, sunny, full of promise and happiness. But halfway through the first episode the skies start to turn grey and cloudy and a thunderstorm signals the arrival of Noah into the lives of the Mokoena family.
The remaining three episodes see rain and stormy weather plague the universe of the story and it is only in the final moments of the story in Episode 4 that the clouds finally break and the sun appears.
Executive Producer, Creator, Writer
Busisiwe Ntintili (Sidewalk Productions)
Executive Producer, Creator, Writer
Werner Cloete (Sidewalk Productions)
Mandla Sibeko (Born Free Media)
Carolyn Carew (Born Free Media)
Director of Photography
Patrick Shai as MosesAntonio Summerton as NoahMoses (Patrick Shai) and Ilse (Susan Coetzer)Nakedi Ribane as LindaMoshidi Motshegwa as UhuruIlse (Susan Coetzer) and Noah (Antonio Summerton)