In the first category, the winner is chosen by audience votes and the award celebrates the mainstream cinema delights of narrative skill, characterisation, suspense, spectacle and comedy. By all accounts, although not yet official, the film received the highest audience rating of any film ever screened at the Edinburgh festival.
Hood says: "For a film to win an international competition, every member of the cast and crew has to deliver at an exceptionally high level. There is no room for mediocrity in any department. I am enormously proud of the entire cast and crew of Tsotsi. I owe them and my producers and investors a huge thank you."
Tsotsi was in competition with 24 other feature films from all over the world, including Serenity, based on the acclaimed American television series of the same name, which had a budget of US$40 million. Tsotsi cost US$5 million dollars to make and was filmed on location in Kliptown, Gauteng. The film stars Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Zola, Kenneth Nkosi, Mothusi Magano, and Zenzo Ngqobe among others.
Based on the novel written by Athol Fugard, the film follows the story of a young boy orphaned at the age of nine and forced to claw his way to adulthood alone in the sprawling townships of Johannesburg. In the violent world he inhabits, Tsotsi lives forever in the moment. An impromptu car jacking resulting in the accidental kidnapping of an infant, forces him to confront his own humanity. The film is an emotive journey in which the central character learns to confront the demons of his past while also coming to terms with the reality of his own destiny.
Ster-Kinekor Distribution will be releasing Tsotsi in South Africa on 24 March 2006. This release will be preceded by a limited commercial run exclusively at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank screened by Jameson's from 16 September this year.
"This type of international acknowledgement will help secure significant local attendances for Tsotsi," says Helen Kuun, marketing manager for independents at Ster-Kinekor Distribution. "It is gratifying to note that the film features an entirely South African cast which is indicative of the fact that authenticity plays an extremely important role in creating a quality film."
Tsosti is eligible for the 2006 Academy Awards as South Africa's official submission, and like last year's Yesterday, was filmed entirely in the vernacular.
The film was co-funded by South African and UK financiers, with local financiers including the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).