‘Tsotsi’ courting Oscar

Hood's pic is S. Africa's entry for consideration

Helmer-scribe Gavin Hood’s “Tsotsi,” about a thug who cares for the baby of a woman he kills in a carjacking, is South Africa’s submission for consideration in Oscar’s foreign-language film category, while Holland has gone with Mike de Jong’s tyke pic “Bluebird.”

The $5 million “Tsotsi,” which won the Michael Powell Award for film at the Edinburgh Film Festival on Sunday, plays out in Tsotsi taal (literally, gangster language), a township street-lingo combination of English, Afrikaans and indigenous languages, such as Xhosa and Zulu, that evolved in apartheid South Africa in the 1950s and ’60s.

The six-member Oscar submission selection committee was convened by the National Film & Video Foundation and the Independent Producers’ Organization.

Pic, which will play at Toronto next month, was co-produced by Paul Raleigh of Moviworld and Peter Fudakowski of the U.K. Film & TV Production Corp.

Ster-Kinekor Distribution will release “Tsotsi” domestically March 24. But it will have a limited run beginning Sept. 16 to start garnering public support.

South African Hood studied screenwriting and directing at UCLA. He was one of Variety‘s 10 Directors to Watch in 2000. This film is his third.

The South African Xhosa-language film “Yesterday” was among the five nominated by the Academy last year for the foreign-language Oscar.

“Bluebird,” which preemed at Toronto last year, is about a 13-year-old girl who is bullied by kids at her school. It won a Glass Bear in the tyke category of the Berlin Film Festival.

The 78th Oscars will be March 5.

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