Xhosa language boxing film to vie for Oscar honours

A scene from the academy award nominated film Knuckle City
A scene from the academy award nominated film Knuckle City
Image: Supplied

Auteur Jahmil XT Qubeka's boxing film, Knuckle City, has officially been selected to represent South Africa at the 92nd Academy Awards.

As SowetanLIVE first reported on Monday, the move was inevitable following its positive debut at the Toronto International Film Festival at the weekend.The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) on Tuesday made the announcement that it will compete for SA in the coveted Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film) category at the 2020 Oscars.

Five other local films that were in contention are Flatland, Racheltjie De Beer, Poppie Nongena, Back of the Moon and Moffie.

“What an amazing journey Knuckle City has had thus far, the film is as hard-hitting as its title suggests,” said NFVF CEO, Makhosazana Khanyile.

“It's quintessentially South African but also a very universal tale and touches on so many themes making it dark and relatable all at once.

“I think Jahmil is a fearless storyteller and we wish this film the very best as it competes on an international scale.”

The NFVF first made the call to local film producers to submit their work for consideration in August. They were screened by 14 jury members, including actress Terry Pheto, picked from the creative industry.

“Its 'slice of life' perspective reminded me of what Quinton Tarantino and Guy Ritchie attempted to do with their earlier films,” noted a jury member.

“Knuckle City is not a superficial exploration of familial binds nestled between high octane car chases. It is, in fact, a dark exploration of a family's existence in a bleak world with some clever humour to make it palatable.

“Although this is not the obvious choice, I truly believe it's the best choice we could have made to represent South Africa at the Academy Awards.”

Now that the Xhosa dialogue film set in Mdantsane, East London, has officially entered the Oscar race it will compete with over 40 other non-English feature-length pictures from across the world. These include Ága (Bulgaria), Spider (Chile), Poisonous Roses (Egypt), Finding Farideh (Iran) as well as Dear Son (Tunisia).From the long list, 10 films will be shortlisted.

Then the five finalists will be revealed next Janaury.Knuckle City - starring Bongile Mantsai, Siv Ngesi, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Zolisa Xaluva, Owen Sejake, Khulu Skenjana and Angela Sithole - will hit local theatres on Boxing Day, December 26.

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