Testament to the beautiful game

A NEW movie will hit the big screen soon, and is poised to draw attention to its young stars.

A NEW movie will hit the big screen soon, and is poised to draw attention to its young stars.

Called Themba: A Boy Called Hope, this is a movie that captures the spirit of the moment.

It opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday.

Like the popular smash hit film Billy Elliott' Themba - A Boy Called Hope follows a young boy's hopes and aspirations against all odds.

Themba is testament to the beautiful game of football and the South African spirit, where many successful players begin their lives and careers in dusty, poverty- stricken townships and end up on the playing fields of some of the biggest clubs in the world.

"Themba reminds me of my own childhood and youth in a township close to a small village in the Transvaal in South Africa: Like him I wanted to escape poverty, like him I loved my mother who was working at the time as a maid for a white family. To be very honest: in soccer Themba seems to be simply better than I was," Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says.

The movie tells the story of a young boy growing up in rural Eastern Cape and the dysfunctional family life he experiences. The talent and passion for soccer keeps him going. His protection of his little sister, which results in him being raped by his mother's lover. Their tra-vels to and search for his mother in Cape Town, HIV-Aids, his eventual selection for the junior Bafana Bafana team, the Amajitas, and his public acknowledgement of his own HIV status and survival.

The film brings to the screen the hottest local stars in their most challenging roles and introduces some highly gifted newcomers. Themba is played by Nat Singo (Beat the Drum, Wooden Camera), his younger self is played by newcomer Emmanuel Soqinase. Celebrated singing star Simphiwe Dana makes her film acting debut as Mandisa, Themba's mother.

Patrick Mofokeng, fresh from leading roles in Master Harold and the Boys and Clint Eastwood's Invictus takes on his most testing role to date as the lodger Luthando, Rapulana Seiphemo the star of Jerusalema and White Wedding plays Vuyo, Themba's father and Kagiso Motsei who played the lead in Malunde is Sipho, Themba's friend.

There are also cameo roles played by an international soccer star who is German and Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, and our own former Kaizer Chiefs star Doctor Khumalo.

Beautifully set and shot in Port St Johns in Eastern Cape and Masiphumelele township, south of Cape Town, the film is directed by Stefanie Sycholt (Malunde) who adapted the screenplay from Lutz van Dijk's book Crossing the Line.

The film is a collaboration by Zeitsprung Entertainment, Rheingold Films and DO Productions and is produced by Michael Souvignier, Ica Souvignier, Josef Steinberger, Brigid Olën, Marlow de Mardt and Stefanie Sycholt.

Themba - A Boy Called Hope was a multiple award-winner at the 21st International Filmfest Emden, Norderley which took place in Germany last month.