Local actors thrill Port St Johns


To celebrate the DVD release and success of the film THEMBA – A boy called Hope ‘returned home’ for special screenings held on Saturday 9th of October in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape, where most of it was filmed.

Brigid Olën and Marlow de Mardt of DO Productions, have taken the initiative to ensure the younger cast who star in THEMBA and the gifted members of the local community that participated in the making of Themba enjoy the experience of seeing the film on ‘the screen’ and receive the accolade they so well deserve.

HUNDREDS of Port St Johns residents packed the Eluxolweni hall on Saturday to watch Themba, a Boy Called Hope – a South African film partially filmed in the Wild Coast.

Mthatha teen Emmanuel Soqinase, who plays one of the three Thembas featured in the film, was in Port St Johns at the weekend for the screening.

The Grade 7 Transkei Primary School pupil did not think he would one day act in a film. He said he had been approached by a man in a mall . The man asked if he wanted to become an actor. “It did not really make sense; part of me wanted to refuse. They immediately gave me a script and auditioned me,” he said. A few days later, Soqinase received a call to say he had the part. “I was very excited,” he said.

Lindelwa Mhlungula of Mthambane location in Port St Johns, who played Themba’s sister, said she had been approached while trying to sell her beadwork.
“I told them that I am a businesswoman, I am busy; I will not have time for that. At that stage I thought it was a joke, but eventually I realised they were serious,” she said.
Mhlungula, a Grade 11 pupil at Port St Johns High School, said she would enrol for drama studies at a Cape Town University when she finished matric.
Although the film has provided a platform for young Eastern Cape talent, it also features big names such as Rapulana Seiphemo of White Wedding fame, songbird Simphiwe Dana and Patrick Mofokeng, who stars in the SABC1 series Zone14.

Former German team goalkeeper Jens Lehman plays Themba’s coach. For those who attended the screening, Themba was more than a film – it was reality. Nonzaliseko Devu described it as painful but informative. “What happened to Themba’s family is something that is happening in our villages. I just hope that all those who watch it will learn something,” she said.
Mvumikazi Mcelwane said what Themba went through was something that was real.
“HIV affects us all, whether directly or indirectly. The storyline was great.”

Executive producer Marlow de Mardt said the message they wanted to convey w as that despite challenges in life, one can achieve one’s dreams.
“It is a story about the aspirations of a young boy who against all odds believed in himself. It shows that it is possible to make something despite all the challenges one faces.”
The film has won several awards since its release earlier this year, but De Mardt said they had not received much support locally.

“Traditionally, South African cinema-goers don’t see South African films, which is a tragedy about our industry.” De Mardt said screening the film in Port St Johns was part of their mission to take the film to communities. “Our intention is to take it to as many communities and get as many people as possible to see it,” she said. — By SINO MAJANGAZA, Mthatha Bureau, sinom@dispatch.co.za

Read the orginal article here.

See more information on the young cast here:

SA movie rocks America – Themba

SOUTH Africa’s internationally acclaimed emotive feature film on HIV-Aids, Themba, A Boy Called Hope, has bagged yet another prestigious award.
Sep 22, 2010 | Francis Hweshe

The multi-award-winning film, which has caused a stir locally and abroad, received the Cinema Peace Award in New York City on Sunday night for raising awareness of this country’s fight against Aids.

The awards are supported by Sir Bob Geldof, who has called them the “Oscars with brains”.

The South African-German co-production, was produced by Brigid Olen and Marlow de Mardt of DO Production in South Africa.

The cast of seasoned actors includes lead Junior Singo, Rapulana Seiphemo, Patrick Mofokeng and singer Simphiwe Dana.

It was written and directed by Stefanie Sycholt and based on a book titled Crossing the Line by Dr Lutz Van Dijk, who lives in the Masiphumelele informal settlement outside Cape Town.

The book is based on his experiences working at the Hokisa Home for children affected by Aids.

The film, which goes on to DVD on October8, has won six accolades.

Nobel Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu has said of the film: “It’s a very good film. I hope it gets an Oscar or two.”

Cinema for Peace founder Jaka Bizilj said: “It’s a wonderful and entertaining film that strikes a cord with the audience through its themes of family, poverty and soccer.

“The film tells a story that entertains and educates at the same time. Its an emotional plea for an open way of dealing with Aids.”

Ayla Hill, of Do Productions, said: “The film skilfully develops role models who overcome the stigma of having HIV – who reveal that it isn’t a shameful disease and that with treatment one can live a productive life.

“The film also demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit that survives in the face of adversity, through courage and determination.”

Read the original article here.

Themba – Cinema for Peace Award

Cinema for Peace Honorary Award


The Internationally acclaimed film, THEMBA: A BOY CALLED HOPE will be receiving the Cinema for Peace Honorary Award, for raising awareness for the fight against Aids. The award is supported by Sir Bob Geldof, who calls the Cinema for Peace Awards the “Oscars with Brains”. The award will be presented at the “Special evening for Africa” held by the Cinema for Peace Foundation in New York on the 19 September 2010. The Co-chair of the UN MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Advocacy Group Paul Kagame and the President of Ruanda will address the audience with a Keynote Speech.

Cinema for Peace has been a worldwide initiative since 2002, promoting humanity through film and showcasing cinematic work, which highlights the human condition and human values. The Honorary Award is bestowed on a film or a person for outstanding commitment and dedication to peace building and human rights.

Jaka Bizilj, Chairman of the Board and Founder of the CINEMAFOR PEACE Foundation, has motivated that Themba: A boy called Hope “is a wonderful and entertaining film, that strikes a chord with its audience. With its themes of family, poverty and soccer the film is able to tell a story about AIDS that entertains and educates the audience at the same time. It’s an emotional plea for an open way of dealing with AIDS.”

Former Cinema For Peace award-winners and presenters include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, filmmakers Clint Eastwood and Michael Winterbottom and actors George Clooney and Ben Kingsley.

This is the 6th award that THEMBA has won since the film was first presented to the public internationally in June 2010. Apart from being voted best film at a number of festivals, it also won the UNICEF CHILD RIGHTS Film Award.

The film is a South African-German co-production and was produced by Brigid Ölen and Marlow de Mardt of DO Productions in South Africa and written and directed by Stefanie Sycholt, a South African, based in Munich, Germany.

THEMBA has received very positive press response in South Africa and abroad. Renowned South African film critic Barry Ronge said “Themba is one of the most impressively made and honestly expressed South African films we have seen for a long time”.

Nobel Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was moved by the film and said, “It’s a very good film. I hope it can get one or two Oscars.”

Munyaradzi Vomo of the Cape Argus claims it is, “A story of hope, of dreaming your dreams and achieving them… told with sweepingly beautiful cinematography and edgy, true-to-life performances.”

In Germany a major TV station heralded THEMBA as “the most important film of the summer.”

DO Productions has partnered with Cinema for Peace to roll-out the THEMBA Grassroots Campaign which will take THEMBA to a broad audience throughout South Africa, reaching far beyond the cinemas into areas where people affected by HIV/AIDS will be able to have access to the film.

Download the Press release here.

“Themba – A Boy Called Hope” Gala Premiere on August 8th in Berlin

Supported by the Cinema for Peace Foundation, together with the Embassy of South Africa and German NGO ,Gemeinsam für Afrika“ (“Together for Africa”), Stefanie Sycholt’s “Themba – A Boy Called Hope” was premiered in Berlin on August 8th.

Miss Mbuyane‐Mokone, Jaka Bizilj, Paul Bendix and Jens Lehmann presented the moving film, “Themba – A Boy Called Hope” which follows a young boy’s hopes and aspirations against all obstacles, including the HIV infection of his mother and himself. The movie is testament to the beautiful game of football and the strength of South African spirit.

Cinema for Peace in cooperation with DO Productions, on the occasion of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa also staged a special screening for school children of “Themba” in Cape Town, presented by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In a truly intriguing atmosphere, the audience consisted of children of the township Masiphumelele. This impressive film has already received, among others, the Unicef Award, the Bernhard Wicki Award and the DGB Award.

Read the article here.

SA Film shines at Zanzibar Festival

SA Film shines at Zanzibar Festival
by Janine Erasmus

South African film Themba: A Boy Called Hope, directed by Pretoria-born Stefanie Sycholt, has scooped the Unicef Child Rights Award at the 2010 Zanzibar International Film Festival (Ziff).

Sycholt received the prize from Unicef Germany board member Anne Luetkes at the film’s premiere in Cologne on 1 August 2010.
International child rights organisation Unicef has presented this award, every year since 2004, to a film that it feels best represents the struggle to uphold children’s basic rights in the Eastern and Southern African region.

The film also took the Golden Dhow award for the festival’s best feature film.

The best of African cinema

The Zanzibar International Film Festival took place mainly in Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar City, located on Unguja Island. This is East Africa’s only functional historical town and is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Some events took place on Pemba Island, the other main island in the Zanzibar archipelago, and mainland Tanzania.

Ziff is said to be East Africa’s largest festival for film, music and the arts. This year’s event coincided with the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which took place in South Africa. Themba’s award is therefore especially fitting as football is one of the film’s central themes, and the film’s South African premiere took place during the tournament.

The film is garnering rave reviews from all over the world. On the Internet Movie Database it has a score of 7.6 out of 10. It is currently showing at the Labia on Orange in Cape Town.

Breaking down barriers through football

The story is based on Crossing the Line by German-Dutch author Lutz van Dijk, now resident in Cape Town. Van Dijk is a founding member of the NGO Homes for Kids on South Africa, which cares for HIV-positive children and those affected by HIV/Aids, when their families or neighbours are unable to.

He based the story on his own experience running a children’s home in the turbulent township of Masiphumelele, on the west side of the Cape Peninsula.

Young Themba and his best friend Sipho. (Image: alpha medienkontor GmbH)

Sycholt, who took part of her degree studies under Nobel literature laureate John Maxwell Coetzee, said she was inspired to bring the book to the big screen as soon as she read it, as it was an inspirational coming-of-age story rather than one of despair and hopelessness. She later wrote the screen adaptation.
“Themba’s story is universal,” she said. “It’s not a football movie that builds up to one match at the end. Football is an important element though; it’s an element of hope in the boy’s life.”

Small boys with big dreams – often it is from these humble beginnings that future stars emerge.

The film focuses on young Themba (an Nguni word meaning “hope”), played by 21-year-old Nat Singo, who admitted that he was attracted by the “amazing script”. The sporty nature of the film, however, was something of a challenge for him.
Themba is a talented footballer and has great ambitions of one day becoming a star, but first must overcome a number of challenges; HIV, violence, poverty, and more.

Themba’s father, a miner in the northern parts of South Africa, no longer sends money for the family. His best friend Sipho recently lost his mother to Aids, becoming yet another statistic in the growing number of child-headed households. However, because of the shame associated with the condition, the family has secretly buried her in the backyard and pretends to the community that all is well.

While still young, the two boys develop an interest in the Beautiful Game and later Themba joins the Lion Strikers football team. However, on the eve of the regional championship finals he is raped by his mother’s lover, and escapes to Cape Town to seek her, taking his sister with him, but abandoning the match.

They find their mother but realise from her frail condition that she is seriously ill – later she reveals that she has Aids, and even with treatment, it would be a long time before she would be well enough to work again.

Themba is forced to look for odd jobs around the city, and finally plucks up the courage to phone Big John Jacobs, who had made contact with the boy during the regional tournament, to ask him for work.

Jacobs, the Ajax Cape Town football coach and talent scout, is played by Former German goalkeeper and World Cup player Jens Lehmann, who makes his on-screen debut as in the film.

But Jacobs has other plans for the boy, and he is invited to practise with the team. One of the players is injured before a big match, and Themba finally gets his chance to hit the pitch.

Multi-talented cast

Lehmann is joined by South African football veteran Doctor Khumalo, of Kaiser Chiefs and Bafana Bafana fame, as well as popular local screen star Rapulana Seiphemo as Themba’s father.

Other performers include Kagiso Mtetwa as Sipho, local songbird Simphiwe Dana as Themba’s loving mother Mandisa, and Patrick Mofokeng as her jobless lover.

Filming wrapped just as the 2009 Confederations Cup came to a close, and took place largely in Cape Town and the rural areas around Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape province. This part of the country has been hard hit by HIV/Aids, and is also one of the poorest provinces. The visuals of this stark and impoverished region are superb.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a keen supporter of the film, said it reminded him of his own childhood in a small village in the former Transvaal, now Gauteng.

The young Tutu, like Themba, had hopes of rising above poverty and making something of himself in the world. “In football, Themba seems to be a lot better than I was,” Tutu said, adding that he wished the film “all possible success”. Source: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com

Read the article here:

Themba winning at The Five Lakes Film Festival

The Five Lakes Film Festival

The Five Lakes Film Festival

Themba won the best film dealing with Youth issues at the Fünf Seen Film Fest (the five Lakes film fest) near Munich in Germany this past week. This is the 5th prize for Themba, congratulations to everyone and thanks for the support!

Here is the photograph with all the winers. Director of Themba,Stefanie Sycholt second from right.

Five Lakes Film Fest

Original Article Here

Themba comes to town

Themba is now screening at the LABIA ON ORANGE (CAPE TOWN) –
The African Screen from this FRIDAY 6TH AUGUST : SCREENING 5 TIMES A DAY68 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town For Bookings call Tel: 021 424 5927. SPECIAL BLOCK BOOKINGS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR SCHOOLS.

Themba receiving great reviews in GERMANY:

Themba is receiving some great exposure and reviews in Germany. Themba also received a few film award nominations, we will keep you updated with the results of the ceremonies.

For all our German speaking fans here is the TV spot Germany’s local news station (ARD news) aired this week.

TV shows screenings recorded at the premiere:

Nat Singo
Seskhona: SABC 1
Thursday, 29 July at 6.30pm

Bonisanani: SABC1
Sunday, 1 August 6.30am

Soweto TV
Wednesday, 21 July

Review in The Sunday Independent

Sunday Independent

Review by Arja Salafranca
• 25 Jul 2010
• The Sunday Independent

Rags-to-riches tale of a boy rising above harsh reality in the fight against Aids

Themba directed by Stefanie Sycholt review by Arja Salafranca IT’S HARD to know where to start with a film like Themba: to tell the story step by step seems pedestrian, and Themba is far more than the story itself. But, of course.

AUTHENTIC: Nat “Junior” Singo takes the lead in Themba –A Boy Called Hope.
Themba does rest on the story told, a story told with sweepingly beautiful cinematography and edgy, true to life performances. It starts in the rural Eastern Cape, when the 12-year-old Themba (played with astonishing maturity by Emmanuel Soqinase) is living with his sister, and his poor mother, Mandisa, played by Simphiwe Dana, barely making ends meet as a tea plantation worker.

His father, who works in the mines up north, has been gone for seven years, and soon even the money that he sends stops trickling in. Through this prism we witness the hardships of rural life. Themba and his best friend, Sipho (Melabantu Maxhama), live in basic huts, and while attending school, also develop a passion for football, a passion that will lead Themba out of poverty. Aids begins to underscore the boys’ experiences: Sipho ashamedly closes the door on his dying mother when Themba comes to visit one day. Months later, the bed is empty, Sipho now in charge of one of the many child-headed households that are a part of life today.

And yet, this fact is simply presented, there are no heavy-handed didactic theatrics in this film. Similarly, the rituals of Ma Zenele (Nomhle Nkonyeni) are plainly presented, in all their apparent failings.

The Eastern Cape scenes are shot with a simplicity and an appreciation for the wild, harsh beauty of this part of the world as we watch Themba and his friend kick a ball around and practise their new skills.
Yet, later, the same landscape serves to highlight Themba’s frustration at his home life. As he runs on the beach and picks up clods of sand, only to throw them ineffectually into the surf, we realise how desperate he has become.

Because as his mother loses her job, she is forced to head to Cape Town to find work.
She leaves Themba and his sister in the care of her part-time lover Luthando (Patrick Mofokeng), a no-good drunkard, who nevertheless becomes their primary caregiver for the next three years.

As part of the young soccer team the Lion Strikers, Themba excels, and is on the verge of getting a place in the local championships when circumstances force him to go search for his mother in Cape Town.
Four years have passed, and apart from sporadic letters and envelopes of money, they haven’t heard much from her.

The 16-year-old Themba is played by Nat “Junior” Singo. What they find in Cape Town is inevitable, from the scourge of Aids to standing on the side of the road waiting for work.
And yet, this is a story of overwhelming hope, as well as overcoming prejudices. It’s a rags to riches story – Themba will achieve unparalleled success with his soccer, although, at times, the transitions and the lucky breaks seem just a little too unbelievable. But, you can easily forgive this, as this is a genuinely heart-warming movie, with performances that are gripping to the end.

The cast, including Dana in her debut role, is strong. Both Thembas are played with sensitivity and grace as is the role of the 16-year-old Sipho (Kagiso Motsei), who is equally strong. It’s a story of hope, of dreaming your dreams and achieving them, and it’s also, a story of friendship, and the link between Sipho and Themba is an important connecting fibre in this production.

Themba opened nationwide last weekend and is showing at selected cinemas.