From gangs to movies

2016-02-04 06:00
 Filmmaker Bongani Tulani and cast member Thamsanqa Sonjolo are excited about their latest kasi movie.  PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

Filmmaker Bongani Tulani and cast member Thamsanqa Sonjolo are excited about their latest kasi movie. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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Philippi youth are so excited about the advances of one of their own; a budding filmmaker, that the prospects of a life outside of crime seem a reality for the future.

Bongani Tulani, a film school graduate, has roped young men involved in acts of gangsterism and crime to discard their ways and be part of a movie being shot locally.

Philippi has become synonymous with crime, grime and squalor.

Last year, Tulani released his debut titled Amakhubalo: which delved into the popular spirits that are said to be given to young boys in the township and gives them power to fight.

This spirits are believed to be one of the strongest driving factors in the gang violence among young boys.

Tulani managed to convince the same young boys who are in gangs and crime to be the cast in the film to highlight the disastrous effects of such spirits.

“I looked around and saw that crime as well gang violence was gripping the community. I decided to film a movie to investigate this phenomenon and what better way than to get people that are actively involved in these things to be the drivers of this project,” said Tulani.

He then began the daunting task of approaching gangsters in the street corners and invite them to take part in his movie. They were very interested and it was surprising the way they warmed up to the project. They gave me insight into the life of crime, the reasons why one gets into it and small things like how guns are handled and hijackings carried out,” he said.

“That helps in making the film believable not only in the eyes of the general community but to other gangs as well.

Even after the movie was completed they were also responsible for selling the DVDs in the township and helped to raise funds,” he noted.

Tulani said that they were busy shooting the sequel to the first movie and that the excitement around the cast was at its highest.

Tulani said among his biggest achievement is giving the local gangsters a chance to change. One such person is Thamsanqa Nonjola, 38, who plays the part of a sangoma in the sequel.

Nonjola, who has been in and out of the slammer a few times, said that he had been approached by Tulani a number of times before he decided to pay him a visit and learn what the movies were all about.

“I first bumped into him while he was performing at a local school and he told me about his Kasi movies and invited me to join him.

I hesitated but after sometime I wanted to find out more about and as time went by I really enjoyed it,” said Nonjola. The relationship between the two saw the establishment of an NGO which trains local youths in theatre and hopes to train them in camera works as well. Nonjola said that he was impressed by Tulani’s ability to get rival gangs to come together and take part in the movie.

Tulani can be reached on 0720726712.

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