The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has announced that Sew the Winter to My Skin is South Africa’s official entry for the 91st Academy Awards (Oscars) in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
The NFVF assembled a South African Academy Awards selection committee, comprised of professionals from various fields within the filmmaking value chain. The committee sat over two days to view the four films submitted and ultimately selected Sew the Winter to My Skin.
Written and directed by Jahmil X.T Qubeka, Sew the Winter to My Skin, explores the true myth of legendary black rebel folk hero, John Kepe. In the rural Great Karoo region, the bandit John Kepe terrorises white farmers, stealing their livestock and supplies to give back to his impoverished community. General Botha, an embittered World War II veteran, becomes obsessed with the capture of the notorious Kepe and leads an epic manhunt for him through the mountains, where he is rumoured to occupy a mysterious cave. Evading capture for over a decade, outwitting Botha and the settlers, John Kepe’s raids become ever more brazen and his escapes from the authorities ever more daring.
The outlaw’s legend grows in the hearts and minds of the poor and marginalised indigenous population, and the self-proclaimed “Samson of the Boschberg Mountains” emerges as both an enigma to his pursuers and a romantic object of adoration for his fellow victims of oppression.
With John Kepe’s very existence representing a threat to the inevitable march of colonial displacement, the hunt to capture and kill the outlaw reaches a desperate crescendo, and his mythological status as a hero and symbol of resistance is cemented forever.
The committee applauded the film as an unmistakeable bold, South African voice that tackles historical and contemporary issues, in both South Africa and the world. Global audiences will be able to resonate with the story while being taken on a skilfully crafted cinematic and musical journey.
The film made its world premiere earlier this month during the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) and will make its local premiere at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival.