Message of Congratulations from Minister Pallo Jordan to the Cast and the Director of “Tsotsi” for Winning an Oscar as the Best Foreign Film

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05 Mar 2006

The South African film industry has once again done the country proud. On Sunday 5th March 2006, the film “Tsotsi”, won an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Film.

I want the cast and production team of the acclaimed movie “Tsotsi” to know that I and millions of other South Africans salute them for the splendid and challenging contribution they have made to indigenous African film making.

Their achievement has revealed to the world, and the USA in particular, that South African talent - as evidenced by award-winning actress and second-time Oscar nominee, Charlize Theron, for example - not only has the potential to stand tall and compete as equals with our international counterparts, but is also of world class.

First the nomination and then the winning of an Oscar by “Tsotsi” will be seen by future generations as the watershed of world perceptions of South African film, our film industry and our actors.

It is a great honor that our creative artists have received much deserved recognition at the heart of the world’s leading film and cinema community as the Best Foreign Film.

International film audiences have been voting for South African films with their wallets and their feet. Before receiving the ultimate accolade, “Tsotsi” won critical acclaim because its story line resonates with the experience of human kind. The film, though uniquely South African, has a universal appeal. Its road to the Oscar has been paved with numerous other awards.

For the third year in succession South African films have earned international acclaim. In addition to “Yesterday”, which won the Human Rights award at the Venice Film Festival during 2004, “The Zulu Love-Letter”, which won the Silver Award at the Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia, “uCarmen eKhayelitsha” won the best film award at the Berlin Film Festival, “Hotel Rwanda” won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Toronto Film Festival, and “Max and Mona” won laurels at Ouagadogou, in Burkina Faso in 2005.

This film, shot in the streets of Johannesburg and based on a novel by the South African playwright, Athol Fugard, is yet another milestone in development and growth of our film industry. These achievements on the world silver screens are indicative of the potential of South African film and the immense treasure house of skill to be found among South African directors, scriptwriters, film makers, actors, composers, set designers and costume designers.

It is the view of this Ministry that the drama that unfolded in South Africa’s past, and the amazing stories we are living through in our present, offer the story-teller – whether on stage, the screen, or the written word -- a wealth of material waiting for skilled artists to transform it into great art.

In congratulating the team involved in making the film I am particularly pleased that the efforts of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF)to promote and create an enabling environment for South African film is bearing fruit.

“Tsotsi” depicts the triumph of the human spirit; it is about redemption and atonement

It is a tale about the human degradation occasioned by crime, but is also about the redeeming qualities of love, and how this emotion, so much taken for granted, can lead a criminal, who soul seems to be lost, to rediscover his humanity. This universal theme, realistically explored in the setting of a South African urban township, says much both about the transcendent qualities of art and about our shared human condition. I am certain that many other exciting South African films will follow the brilliant success of “Tsotsi”.

The prize opens up new opportunities for South African talent to shine. Through it we hope film-makers will become more fully aware of the outstanding talent South Africa possesses and what magnificent landscape and scenery our beautiful country has to offer

Apart from the actors and the film director, there are thousands of nameless and faceless persons who contribute to the realization of a film. We extend our congratulations to these too.

It is the vision of the Department of Arts & Culture – working through the Nation Film & Video Foundation – to produce and nurture a new generation of South African story-tellers who will take the fascinating tales of our national experience to the world.

The Oscar coming to Africa signals the arrival of indigenous South African film making. Today we can truly say that we are the right path and there is no stopping us, now!

 

For further details call:
Sandile Memela Spokesman for the Minister of Arts & Culture
Cell: 082 800 3750.