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Music is My Life – Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo selected as the official South African submission for the 96th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars)

By 19 October 2023No Comments

Johannesburg, 19 October 2023 – The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), is excited to announce the selection and submission of Music is My Life – Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo (“Music is My Life”) as South Africa’s official entry in the International Feature Film category for the 96th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars).

The decision on the entry was made as a result of the South African Academy Awards Selection Committee engaging on a rigorous judging process of scored reviews and deliberations. This year’s Committee comprised of a diverse group of seasoned industry professionals from various fields within the film industry, who were submitted to and approved by the Academy. Once the call for submissions closed on 10 August 2023, the committee evaluated a total of 4 film submissions from 18 to 22 September 2023, at Nu Metro cinemas in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The submissions were evaluated based on the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film eligibility criteria. The NFVF appointed a reputable firm, SNG Grant Thornton to assess the overall judging process and ensure the integrity of the process. Once the committee had deliberated in its meeting held on 22 September 2023, the submission Music is My Life – Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo received the highest votes as the official selectiononce the scores weretallied and vetted by the auditors.

Music is My Life tells the story of the late South African musician, Dr. Joseph Shabalala, who rose to international acclaim with his band Ladysmith Black Mambazo and contributed to Paul Simon’s successful Graceland album. Produced by the seasoned award-winning producer, Carolyn Carew, whose work spans across the African continent, with productions that have been seen on Netflix, Amazon Prime and eVOD just to name few.  The feature documentary film was shot over a period of five years and richly portrays Dr. Shabalala’s creative process through the inspiring lense of his life. It isan engaging tribute to South Africa’s diverse culture, one of South Africa’s most distinct traditional musical forms, isicathamiya,and the man with a remarkable voice who made it globally relevant.     

Since its release, the film has screened at a number of local and international film festivals and has garnered critical acclaim by audiences in countries like America, New Zealand, Australia and Spain, to name a few. Locally, Music is My Life screened at the Labia Cinema for over five days and on what would have been Dr. Shabalala’s 83rd birthday, the public broadcaster’s SABC 1 channel aired the film.

Ms. Thobela Mayinje, NFVF Acting CEO says, “It is always a great and privileged opportunity to have a South African film represent the country at the global industry’s foremost awards . The fact that this particular film tells the authentic South African story of the iconic Dr. Shabalala, is even more special.”

The official nominations for the 96th Annual Academy Awards will be announced on 23 January 2024.


For media requests, contact:

Lerato Mokopanele

Marketing and Communications Manager

National Film and Video Foundation

About NFVF

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture that was created to ensure the equitable growth of South Africa’s film and video industry. The NFVF does this by providing funding for the development, production, marketing, and distribution of films, and the training and development of filmmakers. In addition, the NFVF commissions research and produces industry statistics that provide both the stakeholders with valuable insights into the South African film industry.






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