Local film bags audience prize in LA

2015-02-22 15:00

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A South African film about sugar daddies has scooped the audience award at the Pan African Film Festival (Paff) in Los Angeles.

Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us debuted at the Durban International Film Festival last year after being produced by director Ernest Nkosi and his team on a shoestring budget with no state or private funding.

An elated Nkosi, speaking to City Press from Los Angeles after the Paff win, said: “Dreams do come true. We are so emotional, wow, wow!”

The festival was founded in 1992 by veteran American actor Danny Glover.

Although it has got a light touch, Thina Sobabili is a dark story 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.

The film is raw and unflinching, using overt and uncomfortable scenes in a way that demonstrates Nkosi’s authentic approach

to film-making. These are the qualities that audiences both locally and internationally have responded to.

“This is by far the most overwhelming experience of my life. We’re the only South African film to take anything home this year,” Nkosi said.

Three other South African films – Four Corners, Hear Me Move and Cold Harbour – were also nominated in different categories.

The film festival’s mission statement is to “showcase the broad spectrum of black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes”.

Paff has previously recognised names like Forest Whitaker, Loretta Devine and Sidney Poitier, and films like Free Angela and Blackbird.

That puts Thina Sobabili in esteemed film-making company.

“This is the hardest award to win. There were 16?500 votes in the entire festival and we won by a landslide,” Nkosi said.

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