19 February 2015
Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us, the gut-wrenching directorial debut of filmmaker Ernest Nkosi, has won the Audience Choice Award at the Pan African Film Festival (Paff) in Los Angeles.
Paff took place from 5 to 16 February in the American city. The awards were made during the festival.
The film was made on a shoestring budget with no outside funding – either from a private investor or the state. Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us is about sugar daddies and marital rape, and is set in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra.
The film debuted at the Durban International Film Festival in 2014 to half empty houses. Speaking to City Press newspaper after the film’s win, Nkosi said: “Dreams do come true. We are so emotional, wow wow!… This is the hardest award to win. There were 16 500 votes in the entire festival and we won by a landslide.”
Thina Sobabili tells the story of criminal Thulas, who while he is very strict, will do anything to protect his sister, Zanele. After witnessing her abuse as a child, Thulas raises Zanele. The two have a very strained relationship. When Zanele falls for the charms of an older man, Thulas is determined to put an end to this relationship. Zanele is forced to make difficult choices.
“This is by far the most overwhelming experience of my life,” Nkosi said. “We’re the only South African film to take anything home this year.”
Three other South African films, Four Corners, Hear Me Move, and Cold Harbour were also screened at the festival. Four Corners was South Africa’s entry in the Oscars this year; Hear Me Move is the country’s first dance movie; and Cold Harbour is about a gang of smugglers, and is set in Cape Town.
After opening in Durban, Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us was picked by a few festivals, and was named one of the 12 best films to show at the African Diaspora International Film Festival in New York. Paff selectors saw it at the New York festival and scheduled it for the Los Angeles showing.
It is being screened this weekend at the fourth annual Jozi Film Festival at Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank on Saturday, 21 February and at The Bioscope on Sunday, 22 February.
Paff is dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding among peoples of African descent. The festival is dedicated to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression. It was co-founded in 1992 by actors Danny Glover, Ja’Net DuBois, and festival executive director Ayuko Babu.