Tsotsi in the West: assiduous promotion

Cinema Paradiso in Perth is going to some trouble to promote 'Tsotsi', even finding a link to Phil Noyce.
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Cinema Paradiso in Perth is going to some trouble to promote ‘Tsotsi’, even finding a link to Phil Noyce.

Australian Director Phillip Noyce is one of the many fans of the film, and liked the lead actress so much so that she appears in his new film Hotstuff out later this year.

Luna Palace cinemas spoke to Australian Director Phillip Noyce who was in South Africa last year, making his new film, where he saw an early cut of Tsotsi. He thought it was brilliant ‘As soon as I saw it, I realised it was a breakthrough for South African movies’ he said. It was the first time that a story had been told about the experiences in the black townships, that was not in English. The film was made in ‘Tsotsi-taal’ – an amalgam of Sotho, Tswana, Zulu, Afrikaans and English. According to Noyce, this opens up a whole new genre in World Cinema, that of the townships, which is where an enormous percentage of the population live.

He told director Gavin Hood that the film would go all the way on to win an Academy Award. Hood thought he was crazy but he did in fact, to his amazement, win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this month.

Noyce was also impressed by lead actress Terry Pheto ’from the first scene she was in you could tell she had an incredible talent and that the camera absolutely adored her. She was very charismatic and arresting on screen and just had this wonderful quality.’ Pheto lives in the township of Soweto where she earns a living performing in the very successful anti-HIV plays which tour to schools to perform. She was cast to Tsotsi by a talent agent who saw her acting in a township theatre performance. These groups are famous for keeping many children off the streets.

Pheto was flown to London for screen tests before being cast in the role of Miriam in Phillip Noyce’s latest film Hotstuff, shot is South Africa last year. The film is a political thriller based on the true story of Patrick Chamusso, a little known player in the struggle against the apartheid regime, an ordinary man forced to resort to terror. The film also stars Tim Robbins as a charismatic policeman who investigates Patrick and his family. The film is not without many parallels to contemporary terrorism.

Tsotsi was a Box Office hit in South Africa, the film earned 250% more than last year’s Oscar nominee Yesterday in its opening weekend. It also brought in 40% more audiences than the highly acclaimed The Constant Gardener for the three days. Ster Kinekor’s Helen Kuun said South African audiences are slowly but surely developing a taste for their own stories.

Tsotsi has a fantastic soundtrack of Kwaito music, the second highest selling genre of music in South Africa after gospel. Kwaito music is heavily influenced by American and British house and hip-hop, it has an infectious beat and has lyrics sung in South Africa street slang.

TSOTSI will be screening at Luna on SX and Cinema Paradiso from April 13.

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