Refilwe Modiselle wins big at another international film festival: ‘I’m my ancestors’ wildest dreams’

Refilwe Modiselle.
Refilwe Modiselle.
Oupa Bopape/ Gallo Images

Congratulations are in order for South Africa’s star Refilwe Modiselle, who bagged an international award for her role as Mansa in the local film White Gold.

The actress was recently nominated for then won the best actress award at the African Film Festival held in Texas over the weekend.

In her acceptance speech – which, like the festival itself, was aired virtually – Refilwe said she’d never anticipated that this award would come home to her.

“Clearly I’m my ancestors’ wildest dreams that have come to life. I thank God for the opportunity. This is not only a win for albinism but also a win to show that whatever you chose to pursue, you are enough as a person,” she said.

Read more | Refilwe Modiselle appreciates her mom for not rejecting her at birth

The movie shines the spotlight on the plight faced by people living with albinism, and the practice of albinism killings for muthi, which still takes place in parts of Africa.

Luke Bradford, who wrote and directed White Gold, says his time in Tanzania opened his eyes to the plight faced by people living with albinism.

“In 2016 whilst self-shooting a documentary in Tanzania, I met a woman with albinism that had both her arms hacked off in her own home for the purposes of witchcraft. This encounter haunted me and led to me writing White Gold,” the London native says.

Following live pitching rounds at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom, Luke won The Pitch film competition last year. “The £30 000 (R639 214) production prize money enabled me to shoot the film in Johannesburg with local cast and crew. The film stars Africa's first successful model with albinism, Refilwe Modiselle,” Luke says.

White Gold was scheduled for release earlier this year but has been delayed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Earlier this year the movie also won the best short narrative in the Oscar 2021-qualifying category at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

Speaking to DRUM, Refilwe said the reality has hit her but she is still trying to take it all in. "The feeling is incredible and phenomenal," she says excitedly.

As much as the award doesn’t come with prize money, Refilwe says it comes with acknowledgement and consideration to get into the 2021 Oscars.

"For me, this was a massive milestone. When we were in the festival of that nature everyone realised there has never been a story like this," she adds.

Read more | Refilwe Modiselle’s film White Gold wins international award

Watch the trailer here:

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