You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: Elelwani

South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and soap-opera sensibilities looks unlikely to spread the word very far. A dedicated lead turn by local TV star Florence Masebe, as an urban career woman blindsided when her parents sell her into marriage, could attract a sympathetic black audience when the pic releases domestically in October.

Having long ago left her rural tribe for the big city, Elelwani (Masebe) is blissfully engaged to urbanite Vele (Vusi Kunene), and has been offered a dream job in Chicago. When she learns her hand has already been promised to the tribal king back home, however, she’s torn between a glowing future and familial duty. Inflected with magical realism, the naive script clearly leans on the Venda culture’s oral storytelling tradition, but may play a little purple to Western ears. Lance Gewer’s bright widescreen lensing retains a televisual quality.

Elelwani

(South Africa)

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 9, 2013. Running time: 106 MIN.

A Blackboard Trust presentation of a Shadowy Meadows production. (International sales: EastWest Film Distribution, Vienna.) Produced by Florian Schattauer. Executive producers, Ketso Gordhan, Florence Masebe. Co-producer, Jyoti Mistry.

Directed, written by Ntshaveni Wa Luruli, based on the novel by Titus Ntsiene Maumela. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Lance Gewer; editor, Aryan Kaganof; music, Chris Letcher; production designer, Robert van de Coolwijk; costume designer, Natalie Lundon; sound, Wilbert Schubel; re-recording mixers, Greg Albert, Andre Feldman; visual effects supervisor, Petra Damross; line producer, Edwin Angess; associate producer, Ntshaveni Wa Luruli; assistant director, Andrew Mahlangu.
With: Florence Masebe, Ashifashabba Muleya, Samy Moeti, Vusi Kunene, Samson Ramabulana.
(Venda dialogue)

More Film

  • IN DEN GÄNGEN (R: Thomas Stuber);

    Berlin: Music Box Buys U.S. Rights to Thomas Stuber's 'In the Aisles'

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • Italian Director Laura Bispuri on Motherhood,

    'Daughter of Mine' Director Laura Bispuri on Motherhood, Modernity and #MeToo

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • Berlinale -- 2018 --Luiz Bolognesi Talks

    Berlin: Luiz Bolognesi Talks ‘Ex-Shaman’

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • 'Blade Runner 2049,' 'Dunkirk,' 'Game of

    'Blade Runner 2049,' 'Dunkirk,' 'Game of Thrones' Win Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • Film Republic Notches Deals for “The

    Berlin: Film Republic Notches Deals for “The Line,” and “M/M” (EXCLUSIVE)

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • American Honey Kansas City

    Pulse Quickens Content Plans as Lars Knudsen Comes on Board (EXCLUSIVE)

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

  • GERMANY OUTMandatory Credit: Photo by Lukas

    Berlinale: Films Boutique Takes World Sales on Vivo Film's New Title 'Flesh Out' (EXCLUSIVE)

    South Africa may have 11 official languages to reflect its rich patchwork of tribes and cultures, but the country’s modest film industry hasn’t taken many of them into account. That’s reason enough to welcome “Elelwani,” the first Venda-language feature in film history, onto the festival circuit, though Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s stilted fusion of folktale and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content