Bizet’s opera set in a South African township and combining music from the original score with traditional African music.


£5 / £3 (Students and 16s only)

Fri 15 July 2022, 7:30pm
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Running Time: 122 minutes plus introduction (total approx. 2.5hrs)

Suitable for Over 12s only

The brain child of conductor Charles Hazlewood, U-CARMEN is a feature film that was filmed on location in a modern South African township setting. It  combines music from Bizet's 19th-century opera with traditional African music and is sung in Xhosa. The energy, compassion, and heat of township life in all its elements create a constantly visually interesting and dynamic background for the unfolding of the story, which owes part of its huge popularity to the thrilling combination of a violent gangster tale with a passionate, almost supernatural love story. As it unfolds, it explores issues of fame and wealth, the position of a strong and independently minded woman in a very masculine society and, perhaps most importantly, the incomprehensible attraction between abuser and victim. Bizet's opera, based on Prosper Merimée's novel, premiered in Paris on March 3, 1875. Set in a poor area of Seville, the story of the magnetic woman who seduces, loves, and ultimately destroys her lover and herself...

Introduced by Michael Williams, CEO Buxton International Festival.

Won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival.


As rich and captivating and multi-faceted as the character on which it is based. – The Independent.

[Director] Dornford-May deftly balances the details of his setting with the universality of his themes, exploring every dusty corner of a village thrumming with tension between patriarchal leaders and strong-willed women. – New York Daily News

Carmen finds a new home in a South African shantytown, lending the nation her powerful voice for the new freedoms of the post-apartheid era. – Film 4

This was basically the best idea ever. The setting brims over with the same wicked froth of danger, exoticism, and passion that 19th-century Seville must have had before it got stylized into oblivion. - Village Voice


The Rotunda Theatre, 

Venue 33k, Bowling Green,

Pavilion Gardens, Buxton, 

SK17 6BE

Creatives, Cast & Crew

Director and producer: Mark Dornford-May

Conductor: Charles Hazelwood

Screenplay: Mark Dornford-May; Ludovic Halévy (opera libretto “Carmen"); Andiswa Kedama; Pauline Malefane

Cinematographer: Giulio Biccari

Cast: Pauline Malefane (Carmen); Andile Tshoni (Jongikhaya) ; Lungelwa Blou (Nomakhaya)

Presented by 

Buxton Film