International audience award for Otelo Burning


Otelo Burning, a coming-of-age film about a group of young township kids who discover the joy of surfing, has won the Golden Owl for Best Movie, as voted by the audience, at the CineramaBC International Film Festival in Balneario Camboriu, Brazil, which was held from 4 to 8 April 2012.

The film was shot in Durban and directed by Sara Blecher (Surfing Soweto). It opens in nationwide in cinemas in South Africa on 11 May 2012.

“The film played to a packed cinema and was highly praised and applauded by the audience,’ says Barbara Sturm, curator of the CineramaBC Festival. The festival’s organisers exhibit films and documentaries from both well-known and new directors from around the globe. The focus of the festival is on ways of bringing human empathy and sensibility to the big screen.

The Brazil win is the latest in a series of accolades for Otelo Burning. It recently bagged 13 nominations at the 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards, announced in Ghana, and also won the Best South African Feature Film award at the fifth Cape Winelands Film Festival (CWFF) in March.

“This latest win is wonderful news,’ says director Blecher. “The cast is mostly made up of young up-and-coming actors, some of whom have come through our workshop process and who are integrally involved in the real world of the story. Their performances are natural and convincing, giving the film an authenticity and sensitivity that captures audiences’ imaginations. It’s particularly exciting to win an audience award in a country like Brazil, which has so many similarities to ours.’

Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film in South Africa, says audience awards bode well for films.

“Oscar winner Tsotsi began its journey to the Academy Awards by winning the audience prize at the Edinburgh film festival,’ she says.

“Audience awards are great indicators of how cinemagoers will respond to a film. This latest win has given us even more confidence that Otelo Burning is set to become another South African classic.’

Otelo Burning is set in 1989, against a backdrop of brewing conflict between two groups in Lamontville, KwaZulu Natal. The story begins when 16 year old Otelo Buthelezi, his younger brother Ntwe and his best friend New Year, are invited to the beach-house where their new friend’s mother is a domestic worker. They watch Mandla Modise surf and he takes the boys into a world previously closed to them. For the boys, who previously had a deep-seated fear of the sea, “flying on water’ comes to represent freedom, and they are hooked. Otelo himself is truly gifted on the water, a surfing star in the making. But jealousy, betrayal and political turbulence impact the lives of these young boys in ways that will change them forever.

Otelo Burning is in isiZulu with English subtitles and stars a new generation of exciting, hugely talented young actors including Jafta Mamabolo (Generations), Thomas Gumede (A Place Called Home), and Tshepang Mohlomi (Izulu Lami).


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