Local short film Umkhungo (The Gift), which was made in 2010, is back in the spotlight after being named Short of the Week on video-sharing website Vimeo this month.
Written and directed by UCT and AFDA graduate Matthew Jankes, the short is an excellent piece of film making that presents a heartfelt story of two characters from different worlds coming together in the chaos of the Johannesburg concrete jungle.
Young Themba (Sivuyisiwe Mtshaka) is orphaned when his parents are murdered, but Themba is not just any boy; he has superpowers he cannot control.
he comes across disillusioned Johannesburg street thug Mthunzi (Israel Makoe) who reluctantly comes to care for him.
The boy and the thug form an unexpected relationship, which not only helps the thug deal with the demons of his past, but teaches the boy to accept his powers rather as a gift than a curse.
Set in the heart of Hillbrow, this film combines a great narrative with a mix of thriller and fantasy/sci-fi. It also delivers powerful performances from a cast of talented actors such as the ever impressive Israel Makoe and young talent Sivuyisiwe Mtshaka.
The 30-minute film is in many ways gripping and emotional, leaving the viewer with so much to think about throughout. By the end one can’t help but find themselves wondering what will happen next for the young boy on the run.
On a grant budget and a pocket full of talent, this SAFTA award winning screenplay is surely the best thing since District 9. It is no wonder the film has won a number of awards and has been shown worldwide. It’s a definite must see.