Sour side of sugar daddies

2015-02-01 15:00

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Independent films from young black South Africans are making their mark internationally.

Hot on the heels of the announcement that 22-year-old Sibs Shongwe-La Mer’s Necktie Youth will be screening in the opening weekend of the 2015 Berlinale International Film Festival, another local indie film has made the cut in Los Angeles after wowing audiences in New York.

This week, it was announced that Ernest Nkosi’s gut-wrenching township drama, Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us, would be the only South African film in competition at Danny Glover’s Pan African Film Festival.

The movie, which was created by a group of former Afda students, was paid for out of the production team’s own pockets and from funds raised selling T-shirts and organising a campus comedy tour.

It debuted to half-empty cinemas at the Durban International Film Festival last year, but now it’s the toast of the film industry.

Thina Sobabili plays out with a light touch, but explores the dark realities of the sexual abuse of babies, schoolgirls and a wife in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Schoolgirl Zanele, who is raised by her criminal brother Thulas, is seduced by a sugar daddy and her life almost goes off the rails.

Co-written by Nkosi and his friend Mosibudi Pheeha, the cautionary tale was inspired by audience engagements and a series of financial literacy films for township youths.

“First, we were picked up by the African Diaspora International Film Festival,” said Nkosi. “We were overwhelmed by the response. New Yorkers loved the performances. We thought they’d miss the local nuances, but they were hungry for South African culture. We ended up being picked as one of the 12 best films and then the guys from Los Angeles contacted us.”

Nkosi says they will be using the Los Angeles trip to raise funds to organise screenings for South African youngsters. “We want to bus young adults, from Grade 11 learners to first-year varsity students, to cinemas. When we showed the film in Durban last year, the conversation around sugar daddies and rape went on for an hour afterwards.”

The film will screen in Los Angeles on February 12 before opening the Jozi Film Festival on February 21.

Meanwhile, Mpumelelo Mcata this week announced that his debut feature, Black President, had also been selected for a Berlinale screening.

Via email, the BLK JKS guitarist revealed he was blown away by his big break. His film explores the life and times of Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai.

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