Alex township drama named as South Africa's Oscar entry

It was filmed on a shoestring budget in the space of seven days in Johannesburg's Alexandra township - and it could be up for a foreign-language Oscar.

Indie drama Thina Sobabili (The Two of Us), the debut feature from writer-director Enest Nkosi, has been named by the South African Academy Awards selection committee as South Africa's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced on Monday, 21 September.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominations for the 2016 Oscars on 14 January, and the Awards ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 28 February.

If Thina Sobabili gets the nod, it will follow in the footsteps of Darrell Roodt's Yesterday, which was nominated in 2004, and Gavin Hood's Tsotsi, which became South Africa's first - and so far only - Oscar winning movie in 2005.

A gritty coming-of-age tale set in a slum neighbourhood from which there seems to be no escape, Thina Sobabili tells the story of teenager Zanele and her over-protective older brother Thulani, who is both her guardian and a criminal on the side.

When Zanele begins an affair with a much older "sugar daddy", in an attempt to break free from the cycle of poverty in which she feels trapped, it puts new pressure on her already strained relationship with Thulani. As Thulani moves to break up her affair, Zanele is faced with difficult choices.

Thina Sobabili won the audience choice awards at both the 2015 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the 2015 Jozi Film Festival in Johannesburg, and the award for best feature film at the 2015 Rwanda Film Festival. It recently made the official selection list for screening at the 2015 Urbanworld Film Festival, taking place in New York from 23 to 27 September.

It also enjoyed some success at the local box office, coming in at 8th position at the South African box office on the weekend of its theatrical release in July - the only independent film to make the top 10.

Independently funded by The Monarchy Group over a four-year period, the movie features an all-local cast headed by Emmanuel Nkosinathi Gweva as Thulani and Busisiwe Mtshali as Zanele.

They are supported by Zikhona Sodlaka, Richard Lukunku, Mpho "Popps" Modikoane, Thato "DH" Dhladla, Thembi Nyandeni, Hazel Mhlaba and Kope Makgae.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission