SA-made film opens locally


On 16 July German-based Stefanie Sycholt’s South African-made film, Themba – A Boy Called Hope, will open nationwide in South Africa. A testament to soccer and the South African spirit, the film follows a young boy’s hopes and aspirations against all odds.
A collaboration by Zeitsprung Entertainment, Rheingold Films and DO Productions, the film is produced by Michael Souvignier, Ica Souvignier, Josef Steinberger, Brigid Olen, Marlow de Mardt and Sycholt (Malunde).

Themba shows how many successful South African soccer players begin their lives and careers in dusty, poverty stricken townships and end up on the playing fields of some of the biggest clubs in the world.

The movie tells the story of a young boy growing up in rural Eastern Cape, his dysfunctional family life, the talent and passion for soccer that keeps him going, his protection of his little sister which results in him being raped by his mother’s lover, their travels to and search for his mother in Cape Town, HIV /Aids, his eventual selection for the junior Bafana Bafana team, the Amajitas, and his public acknowledgement of his own HIV status and survival.

Themba was a multiple award winner at the 21st International Filmfest Emden- Norderley, which took place in Germany from 2 to 6 June this year. It walked away with first place for the Bernhard Wicki Prize and the audience award. Themba also scored top honours by winning the prestigious DGB award which goes to the film that best portrays social issues.

Nat Singo (Beat the Drum, Wooden Camera) plays the lead role of Themba, with his younger self played by newcomer Emmanuel Soqinase. Celebrated singing star Simphiwe Dana makes her film acting debut as Mandisa, Themba’s mother. Patrick Mofokeng fresh from leading roles in Master Harold and the Boys and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus takes on his most testing role to date as the lodger Luthando. Rapulana Seiphemo star of Jerusalema and White Wedding plays Vuyo, Themba’s father and Kagiso Motsei who played the lead in Malunde is Sipho, Themba’s friend. There are also cameo roles played by International soccer star the German and Arsenal goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann and South African Kaiser Chiefs star Doctor Khumalo.

Set and shot in Port St John in the Eastern Cape and Masiphumelele township, south of Cape Town, the film is directed by Sycholt (Malunde) who also adapted the screenplay from Lutz van Dijk’s book Crossing the Line.

Says Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu: “Themba reminds me of my own childhood and youth in a township close to a small village in the Transvaal in South Africa: Like him I wanted to escape poverty, like him I had the hope that our world will be just world one day – and like him I loved my mother who was working at the time as a maid for a white family. To be very honest: in soccer Themba seems to be simply better than I was.’

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