The Challenge is influenced by Andres Laszlo Sr.'s bestselling (and, as a movie, blockbusting) book My Uncle Jacinto. As a novel, it falls between adult and youth novel (a bit like The Little Prince with which the book shares many similarities). My father could "get away with this" - i.e. publishing in-between genres" - as he at the time was an established writer. My adaptation, The Challenge, also falls between genres, but as a movie, all those problems vanish and it falls firmly within the "Family Movie" category. Watch the VIDEO.
I have applied for a grant from RFF (The Rotterdam Film Festival) together with "Hollywood director" Tim Spring (Raw Target, etc.), but I was turned down with the argument; "Your happy ending is better suited for the American market." My own feeling is that the ending is (intentionally) ambiguous, something I must have failed to demonstrate in the script I submitted.
The book upon which this book has been based has been published in various languages: The Challenge (English, 2015), El Reto (Spanish, 2015), Utmaningen (Swedish, 2015), La Sfida (Italian, 2015), Die Herausforderung (German, 2015) and Le Grand Defi (French, 2016). This script, of which the introduction is presented below, has been written in "Final Draft," and the transformation into MSW/Kindle has not been perfect, something I do apologize for.
EXT. - MANSION - DAY.
Through a slit FROM ABOVE: a parasol-swivel stuck in a “tree-trunk” jug of juice, exclusive Italian shoe-polish, boxing gear, a CAPE NEWS POSTER reading: 'BABA KO TOPAZ' with BABA's picture.
A white man's hands massage black shoe-polish into BABA's hair. On Baba’s chest hangs a LEOPARD’S TOOTH.
PULL BACK TO REVEAL that this has been seen through a rip in an otherwise immaculate parasol-style umbrella.
CAMERA SWINGS AROUND FROM ABOVE to show BABA having a spot of white hair - he has one over each ear - 'colored in' with black shoe-polish by factotum KIPLING.
Baba - black, athletic, 20ish and proud-looking - relaxes beside a net-covered swimming pool. The general exclusiveness contrasts sharply with the ripped umbrella.
I'd kill you. You do realize that?
Kill me, Sir… Why Sir?
If you told.
(nodding at pool-net)
About your hydrophobia, Sir?
No Kipling. Not about my -- That.
Oh! About these white spots that will never go away, Sir?
Yes, Kipling; about them.
Of course, I do Sir.
(nodding at the poster)
If the press finds out, I'll know from where they got it.
Somebody else knows, Sir: your half-brother.
(a little annoyed)
But he won't be around very long.
(finishing Baba's hair)
No Sir, but there is somebody who will.
INT. - LIMOUSINE - DAY.
Hiding in the front seat beside Kipling is 3/4 white TIGER - the cutest four-year-old in cinematic history - he has his mouth covered by HALF BROTHER: a shabby-looking, sickly 1/2 white man whose face (AIDS) must not be fully seen.
Baba, punching the air, approaches the limousine. In the b.g: an exclusive mansion and many empty beer crates. Baba flings himself into the back seat.
Let's go kick some ass.
He must have picked the lock.
Picked the lock?
From beside Kipling, up pops Tiger: his guard is raised to box, and he jumps onto over the seat and onto Baba.
Baba apparently overwhelmed by Tiger's attack, collapses onto the seat.
Baba - apparently unconscious - while lifting the boy up in the air by his belt, gets pummeled from above.
Tiger stops his assault and Baba regains consciousness.
He’s Tiger now. He’s learned of your leopard's tooth and the initiation. So when he grows up, he intends to fight a Tiger; that way he’ll be more honorable than you.
Sounds a good plan to me; Tiger it is. Tiger, I hope you haven't started your path to glory and honor by bringing my wretched half-brother.
He has, Sir - I gave him two tickets, but he wouldn't leave.
Shut it, James! Hi, Baby. Long time no see.
Don't you Baby me! Whitey. You’ve got your tickets; what are you waiting for?
Baba's half-brother says nothing.
Right. So what fix are you in this time?
Bail or Sipho-… Tiger-watching?
In two weeks I’ll be hunting lions.
So -- it's Tiger-watching?
Well, I could use a…
So it's Tiger-watching!
Yea. Yea its Tiger-watching.
So why don't you just say that?
I like a bit of drama. Runs in the family. On the paternal side.
Let me see your ugly face.
Baba's half-brother shows not his face.
Two weeks - you're sure?
The white ones?
Can't trust them.
(tweaking Tigers cheek)
What about his color?
What about it?
Will he get any darker?
Sure, he'll get like you. Should have been yours; you know that.
Baba says nothing.
He’s decided to become a boxer too.
Yea, if he doesn’t make it as a shoeshine boy.
You knew this day would come.
I pretended it wouldn't.
Been reading the dictionary again?
When you start lying to yourself…
You sound more like mother for every day.
He's -- sound, isn't he? Health-wise I mean.
EXT. - BOXING RING – DAY
Baba, in a splendid red robe, sits in his corner: angry, muttering and not acknowledging his opponent.
BILL - a white irritating-looking teenager - enters the ring, enthusiastic and amateurish. Bill shakes his gloved hands as if a world champ. Though frightened, Bill pretends to be the opposite - he irritates us.
Baba, Bill, and referee gather in the center of the ring.
As the GONG SOUNDS Bill comes after Baba with great energy but little skill. Baba avoids Bill with amazing ease and close to super-human speed.
The crowd loves it.
(muttering to himself, imitating half-brother)
Hi Baby, long time no see.
Tiger looks at Baba with admiration.
Half-brother, hiding his face under a hat, talks to FIVE B: huge, bad, black, brutal and bossy. Five B looks 'recently down and out' and as if hating Baba - we remember him.
Pretty ladies encourage Baba.
BABY BABE - a black teenage girl with blond hair and braces - shows her friends her silver heart where two pictures are inserted: she & Baba. We think: ‘She’ll become beautiful,’ and we remember her too.
I love him so much.
Baba looks at Baby Babe; he likes.
Bill attacks, but Baba avoids him with spectacular ease.
The crowd loves it.
(in falsetto voice)
Take him out Billy Boy! Take him out!
People smile and laugh at Five B: silly man'.
Baba maneuvers Bill into hitting a ring-post.
The referee gives Bill a count
The crowd laughs.
The gong saves Bill.
Five B shakes his head in disappointment.
Baba stands up in his corner muttering, Bill’s wrist is massaged.
Back in the center, as the referee shouts 'Fight,' Bill deliberately knees Baba.
Baba jack-knifes, and Bill follows him, hitting, kicking and kneeing Baba from behind, despite the referee's protests.
Finally, the referee manages to pull Bill away.
The referee disqualifies Bill.
The crowd protests.
Let us continue. Ten thousand.
The referee shakes his hand.
If not I’ll necklace you.
You can’t talk to me like that.
I’m Baby Baba, and I can talk to anybody - except Mister Mandela - in any way I want.
(turning to the crowd)
Re-fund! Re-fund! Re-fund!
Re-fund! Re-fund! Re-fund!
All right. All right.
The referee calls both men to the center.
Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!
The referee restarts the fight.
Baba steps in to deliver his first blow - an incredibly fast uppercut, lifting Bill off the ground - Baba has used much more force than warranted.
As Bill collapses, Baba continues hitting him, despite the referee’s attempts to stop him.
Bill lies still on the floor.
(muttering, walking to his corner)
Next time; show some respect.
The match doctor rushes into the ring with his bag.
Should have been yours.
CLOSE on muttering Baba as Bill's state AD LIB gets worse O.S. At the word 'dying' Baba stops muttering, looks at Bill in surprise and gets down on his knees.
He's okay, isn't he? I hardly touched him.
The doctor and the paramedics neglect Baba.
Bill gets worse.
Baba’s lips repeat; 'I hardly touched him.’
Someone should arrest him.
As Bill dies AD LIB on the floor CLOSE ON Baba's eyes.