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A KWAZULU-NATAL girl has become an international star after winning an award at a film festival in Spain.
Sobahle Mkhabase, 11, is the star of Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), co-written and directed by Durban-based filmmaker Madoda Ncayiyana. The film won the coveted Audience and Best Actress awards at the Tarifa International Pan African Film Festival.
Shot in isiZulu with English subtitles, the film also won the Dikalo Best Feature Film at the International Pan African Film Festival in Cannes, France, in April.
The star of the movie announcing her arrival to the film industry, beat hundreds of actors to the crown.
"It's my first movie and to win an international award is very special. It's the cherry on top. I have never thought of being an actress but a singer. Now that I have tasted the movie industry, I am loving it to bits.
"I hope this is going to open doors for me," said an elated Sobahle.
"I used to like singing a lot but now I love acting more," she said.
Ncayiyana said: "I auditioned 3000 children and Sobahle was one of seven to cut it. She is the only girl in the movie (the rest are boys). She has raw talent."
He said the fact that the film had already won three international awards before being shown to South Africans spoke volumes for its quality and for the growth of the South African film industry.
The movie chronicles the journey of two young siblings from their rural homestead to the city after the death of their mother.
Carrying with them is a mat their mother had sewn to enter it into a competition.
The two venture into the harsh reality of city life with the hope that the mat is their only chance to a better life.
The movie will premiere in South Africa on the opening night of the Durban International Film Festival from July 23 to August 2.