Elelwani, South Africa’s first Venda-language feature film, screens at Rosebank Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg from 1 to 7 November 2013, prior to its official national release on 31 January 2014 through Indigenous Film Distribution.
The screening is to ensure that Elelwani qualifies to be in competition for the 2014 South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs).
Directed by Ntshaveni Wa Luruli and based on the novel by Titus Ntsiene Maumela, the film tells the story of Elelwani (Florence Masebe), a young woman who leaves her rural village for the big city, where she completed her studies.
Elelwani has been offered a dream job in Chicago and is engaged to Vele, the love of her life. The two set out on a drive to her village, intending to tell her parents of their plans to marry.
However, after their arrival, Elelwani is shocked when her parents reveal that she is to marry the tribal king. She initially rebels, but torn between a glowing future and familial duty, she finally consents to the marriage.
An ethnographic thriller infused with the tradition of oral storytelling, the film is a cinematic initiation into the culture of the Venda.
The film was shot against the glorious backdrop of the Thohoyandou area of Limpopo, and these beautiful images and a thrilling plot create a film filled with magical realism.
Wa Luruli, who is Venda, deals maturely with a sensitive topic and guides the story to a complex and grounded resolution.
Says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution: “Elelwani is a unique film and an important milestone in South African cinema history. Not only does it provide a window into Venda culture, but it’s also a well-told tale that is beautifully shot, with solid performances from the lead characters.
“We are confident that the film is likely to win awards, which is why we want to ensure that it is eligible for the 2014 SAFTAs by exhibiting it in November this year. The SAFTAs celebrate creativity, quality and excellence in South African film, and Elelwani is definitely a movie that we can all be proud of.’