Elelwani, the first Tshivenda film selected as South Africa’s Oscars entry

01 October 2014: Ntshavheni wa Luruli’s film, Elelwani was yesterday, 30th September 2014 confirmed as South Africa’s official entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Annual Academy Awards. The South African Academy Award Selection Committee and the National Film and Video Foundation made the announcement after intensive deliberations.

Should the Oscars Academy Award Selection Committee nominate Elelwani as a South African entry, it will join award-winning Tsotsi (2006) and previously nominated Yesterday (2005) as South African films that have been represented at the Oscars.  If approved the film will represent South Africa as the nominee for the 87th Oscars to be held in 2015.

Based on the novel by Dr. Titus Maumela, the film tells the story of Elelwani and her boyfriend who are madly in love and plan to spend the rest of their lives happily together. They are both armed with university education and live urban lives with aspirations to travel around the globe. 

After graduating, Elelwani returns to her family in the countryside to introduce her boyfriend and announce their plans. However, they are faced with a major challenge, as her father wants her to be the wife of the local king. The film, which explores the Tshivenda culture in detail stars Florence Masebe, Vusi Kunene and Ashifashaba Muleya. It was produced by Florian Schattaue, directed by Ntshavheni wa Luruli and distributed by Indigenous Films.

Elelwani first premiered at the Durban International Film Festival; thereafter it was in the official selection at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou and the Luxor International Film Festival in 2013. The film also won the best actress in a leading role (Florence Masebe) and best production design at the African Movie Academy Awards. 

When contacted about the news, Ntshavheni wa Luruli, Elelwani’s director had this to say, “I’m stunned, speechless and still trying to digest the news. On behalf of the cast and crew I would like to thank the South African Academy Award Selection Committee for the honour to represent our country. Also, I would like to thank all the investors, sponsors and all supporters of Elelwani including the Department of Arts and Culture, the National Film and Video Foundation, Gauteng Film Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Hubert Bals Fund for making this film happen.”

The South African Academy Award Selection Committee Chairperson Kimberleigh Stark said the judges were unanimous in their choice of the film. "The film is one of a kind, it is beautifully told, explores Tshivhenda cultural values that have not been given attention in South Africa before, in addition Elelwani is a breath of fresh air, original and engaging. The film has the best cinematography coupled with high production quality, “says Stark.

The NFVF and the South African Academy Awards Selection Committee wishes the team behind the film best of luck.


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The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is governed by the National Film and Video Foundation Act 73 of 1997 as amended by Cultural Laws Amendment Act 36 of 2001. The mandate of the NFVF, in terms of section 3 of the Act, is:

To promote and develop the film and video industry;

To provide and encourage the provision of opportunities for persons, especially from disadvantaged communities to get involved in the film and video industry;

To encourage the development and distribution of local film and video products;

To support the nurturing and development of access to the film and video industry;

To address historical imbalances in the infrastructure and distribution of skills and resources in the film and video industry.