Oscar gets trip to ‘Jerusalema’

Ralph Ziman drama is South Africa's foreign entry

JOHANNESBURG — Ralph Ziman’s “Jerusalema” is South Africa’s submission for consideration in the foreign film category at the Oscars.

Like the country’s previous Oscar winner, “Tsotsi,” “Jerusalema” is set in a world of urban crime and violence, this time in Johannesburg’s notorious downtown Hillbrow area.

Loosely based on real events during the 1990s, the film follows the story of Lucky Kunene (Rapulana Seiphemo) who becomes an underworld real estate king as he first targets, then takes over buildings — effectively stealing them from their owners.

“Jerusalema” premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year. It has been well-received at home by critics and audiences, raking in more than $400,000 at just 14 theaters since its release on Aug. 29.

Produced by Tendeka Matatu, it is being distributed through United Intl. Pictures in partnership with Metro FM and the Gauteng Film Commission.

The Academy has invited 96 countries to submit films for foreign-language Oscar consideration. Nominations will be announced Jan. 22, and the 81st awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 22.