Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cultural revolution from South Africa

Last night I saw Gavin Hood's Tsotsi, an unusual cinematic telling of a hopeless individual's transformation to humanness. Although some aspects of the story are tried-and-true, the drama, the setting, and the acting and directing are far from ordinary. Putting this together with the 2004 Ravinia production of Mzilikazi Khumalo's Princess Magogo I realize what phenomenal artistic potential has been locked up in South Africa far away that has only been reaching our shores in the last few years. If these works are typical, let the flood gates open!

From Tsotsi, Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto are actors to watch. Chweneyagae, though only 21 or 22 at the time the film was made, appears as the prematurely aged ganster-thug, Tsotsi. Pheto is stunningly lovely as the widow of bountiful breast, Miriam. And Hood deserves kudos perhaps most of all for knowing exactly when to stop.

Afterthought: Both Princess Magogo and Tsotsi are the fruits of black-white collaborations and cultural mixes. South Africa is a country to watch.

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