Elelwani, the first Venda-language film to be made in South Africa, screens locally
from 31 January through Indigenous Film Distribution.
Directed by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, the film stars veteran actress Florence
Masebe, who won the 2013 African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a
leading role for her role as Elelwani.
Says Masebe, “Ntshavheni and I are both from Venda, and the story is close to
our hearts. It has been incredibly rewarding to see our dream turned into the
reality that is the film. It’s a respectful interpretation of Venda traditions and I
urge all South Africans to watch it.’
Based on the book by Titus Ntsiene Maumela, Elewani was one of the first
Venda novels published in South Africa. “Many Venda people already know the
story because the book was widely read, so we are excited that South Africans
will now have a chance to see the story come to life in the cinemas,’ adds
In the movie, Elelwani, a young woman, leaves her rural village for the big city to
complete her studies. She is offered a dream job in Chicago and becomes
engaged to the love of her life, Vele. Intending to tell her parents of their plans
to marry, the two go to her village where her parents reveal that Elelwani is to
wed the tribal king, to which she finally consents.
Shot against the green backdrop of the Thohoyandou area of Limpopo, beautiful
images and a dramatic plot create a film filled with magic realism, offering a
cinematic initiation into the Venda culture.
“Elelwani is a unique film and an important milestone in South African cinema
history,’ says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution. “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.’
Elelwani was made possible by a grant from the National Lotteries Distribution
Trust Fund and additional funding by the Department of Trade and Industry (the
dti), The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), The National Film and Video
Foundation (NFVF) and the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC).