JOHANNESBURG – The director and star of “Tsotsi,” South Africa’s first Oscar-winning feature, arrived back in Johannesburg Sunday March 12 to a heroes’ welcome of the sort usually reserved for triumphant sports teams. Helmer Gavin Hood and thesp Presley Chweneyagae were greeted at the airport by singing, ululating and dancing crowds with shouts of “Halala Tsotsi” (Hurray “Tsotsi”) echoing through the terminal as they displayed their Oscar for foreign-language film.
Apart from Johannesburg fans, three busloads of supporters turned up from Chweneyagae’s home North West state, several hours’ drive away.
Hood and Chweneyagae then joined members of the cast and crew and other industry reps on a roadshow through the city. They were driven through the dusty streets of the predominantly black townships of Alexandra and Soweto in an open-roofed bus as thousands of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of their new movie-making heroes and their Oscar.
Later they visited the packed Wanderers cricket stadium, where South Africa was playing against Australia in a one-day international match, and received a standing ovation from the crowd as actress Terry Pheto called on spectators to “please go and see it.”
“Tsotsi” has made nearly $600,000 in its first five weeks of release on just 21 prints, the highest per-print average of any film currently playing. The Oscar is expected to drive B.O. figures to new heights.