SA film honored in UK


The Durban-produced feature film, Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), has won second prize in the Drama category of the One World Media Awards in the UK. This is the seventh international award to be clocked up by Madoda Ncayiyana’s film. He co-wrote the script with Vuleka Productions partner and co-producer of the film, Julie Frederickse.
Izulu Lami was awarded by a jury chaired by Head of Warp Films-Europe, Peter Carlton, with jury members including actress Greta Scacchi, BBC Music & Events head Jan Younghusband and playwright Lydia Adetunji.
The jury’s citation reads: “Izulu Lami is almost a fairy tale, we were immediately charmed by the engaging performances of a luminous young cast. The story managed to reveal the harsh realities of street life in the city without falling into hopelessness. Instead of making a drama of their predicament it gave dignity and reality to these children’s lives by allowing the drama to unfold between them as characters.’
Izulu Lami, described by the UK’s Guardian as “South Africa’s Slumdog Millionaire’, and which has screened in the official selection of several UK festivals, was one of three films shortlisted for the One World Media Drama Award. In its comments on the three films the jury noted: “We were struck overall by the extremely high quality of the films shortlisted. We would like to acknowledge the extraordinary achievements these films represent simply to get made in very difficult environments and their value in bearing witness to lives often unseen by the rest of the world.’ First Prize went to Mario Bechis’s Birdwatchers, distributed by Celluloid Dreams.
The One World Media prize goes to outstanding feature films and TV dramas that depict the developing world in a compelling and imaginative way. It is open to films shown theatrically in the UK or on British television.
Izulu Lami features a cast of mainly young children from townships and informal settlements who had never acted professionally before being discovered by director Ncayiyana. The film was shot entirely in Durban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, with a cast and crew largely from Durban.
The film has also won the Cannes Pan-African Film Festival’s prestigious Dikalo Award for Best Feature Film, the Best Debut Film prize at India’s International Film Festival of Kerala, the Audience Award for Best Film at the Verona International African Film Festival in Italy and the Signis Award for Best Film at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. It won the Audience Award for Best Film at Spain’s Tarifa International African Film Festival and child star Sobahle Mkhabase won Best Actress, competing against adult actors, for her performance at the age of 10.
Izulu Lami has won three South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas): Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film – Tshepang Mohlomi; Best Production Designer; and Best Costume Design in a Feature Film.
South African film critic Barry Ronge called Izulu Lami “an extraordinary work of great power’ in the Sunday Times, writing that “Madoda Ncayiyana gives us a vision of the lives of these children that I cannot recall seeing in any other South African-made film… on a tiny budget, the director and his crew have made a well-styled film, structured and detailed.’ Award-winning author and film critic Don Mattera called Izulu Lami a film that “gives one confidence and a sense of tangible hope for the future of film production in South Africa’.
The film is produced by Jeremy Nathan of Dv8 Films, and co-produced by Frederikse of Vuleka Productions. Izulu Lami is supported by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the SABC, Ster-Kinekor Distribution, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Rebate, and the French film fund, Fonds Images Afrique. The eThekwini Municipality supported the shooting of the film in Durban’s KwaMashu and Inanda townships.
During its theatrical release in 2009 Izulu Lami was embraced by cinema-goers throughout South Africa, staying on circuit for three months. Izulu Lami is available on DVD from Ster Kinekor Entertainment, for purchase in leading retail stores nationally and online from, as well as for rental.

Director Madoda Ncayiyana is currently developing his new film, Mobile Muti, produced by Julie Frederikse of Vuleka Productions and co-written by Frederikse and Ncayiyana. The film is one of the twelve projects selected for Durban Film Mart, part of the upcoming 2010 Durban International Film Festival. Mobile Muti will star the two award-winning child actors from Izulu Lami, Tshepang Mohlomi and Sobahle Mkhabase.


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