'Tsotsi' is country's foreign language nod for 2nd year in a row

JOHANNESBURG — Director Gavin Hood said he was “overjoyed” today on hearing the news that his feature “Tsotsi” had been nominated for a foreign language Oscar, the second year in a row South African film has achieved this honor (“Yesterday,” 2005).

“This is fantastic news for all who have worked, and continue to work, so hard on this film,” said Hood. “When we set out to make a South African film, in Tsotsitaal (South African gangster street language), with a local cast and crew, we didn’t dare to hope that we might one day be nominated for an Oscar. We made a film from the heart, with good pacing, good music and sincere emotional power. The odds of an international release on any scale seemed slim, so when Tsotsi began winning audience awards at world cinema festivals, I was in shock. Now, with this Academy Award nomination, I think that initial shock has given way to joy. I am simply overjoyed and enormously grateful to and proud of the entire cast and crew.” Tsotsi, based on an Athol Fugard novel, is a South African/British co-production financed in South Africa by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and in the UK by the British Film Council. It tells the story of a hardened gangster who finds his humanity while caring for a baby left behind after he kills the mother during a carjacking.

It would be fair to say that a lot of South Africans will be celebrating tonight,” said South African producer Paul Raleigh. “The broader film industry has been most supportive of the film and it’s good to know it’s no longer only Charlize Theron who will represent South Africa in LA.” “It is wonderful to see that there is interest in stories from Africa, and that we have the talent required to produce world-class entertainment,” said Helen Kuun, marketing manager, local content, at Ster-Kinekor Distribution, which will release the film countrywide on February 3. “Our greatest hope now is that Tsotsi will make it all the way. For those who are working so hard to raise the profile of the local film industry, that will be a dream come true.”

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