It’s that time of the year, a perfect time to have a look at 2019’s best films that came out in South Africa and produced by South Africans. This was definitely not an easy list to put together, since there were a lot of great films ranging from feature lengths to short films and documentaries that delve into our experiences as a nation.
2019 saw South African films make meaningful impact and headlines on global platforms, at the world’s biggest festivals like Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to winning major awards.
Here’s the top 10 in no particular order:
FIELA SE KIND
Directed by Multi-Award winning director Brett Michael Innes
Fiela Se Kind, is an iconic South African classic, Brett Michael Innes delivers a heartbreaking story of the walls that separate us and the love that unites, telling the tale of a coloured woman in 1890s Southern Africa who finds a white toddler on her Karoo doorstep and raises him as her own.
- Won Awards at Cairo International Film Festival & International Film Festival of India respectively
- Also won an Award at International Film Festival of Kerala
- Screened at Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, walking away with Grand Prix award for Best Film.
Directed by multi-award winning director from Eastern Cape, Zuko Nodada
A star-studded action film directed by the SAFTA Award-winning director, Zuko Nodada and stars South African actors Nqobile Khumalo, Robert Hobbs and Sthandiwe Kgoroge. The story follows Aluta, an ambitious and determined young woman who searches for the success which only the corporate world can bring. Having big dreams of being a CEO of a mining company, her life takes a full 360-degree turn. As she dodges bullets while seeking justice for her and her family, this movie will left audiences on the edge of their seats.
- Selected as a semi-finalist during the London International Motion Picture Awards 2019
- Received recognition at the Regina International Film Festival held in Canada
- Screened at Los Angeles International Film Festival & Durban International Film Festival
- Opening Night Film at Chelsea Film Festival in New York
THE KANDASAMYS – THE WEDDING
Directed by Jayan Moodley
Kandasamys: The Wedding’ (KTW) centred around the Naidoo/Kandasamy wedding. Director/Writer Jayan Moodley reprises her roles in the sequel and makes the big screen come alive with more side-splitting comedy and heart touching moments as the two Chatsworth families plan the wedding of the year (or if the Mother of the Bride would have it – The Wedding of the decade in spectacular Kandasamy style!)
- Raked in R5,7 million at the box office in opening weekend, over 10 million in 2 weeks
- Grossed more than 18 million at SA Box Office, making it a highest grossing movie in SA
- Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the movie has been acclaimed for its exceptionally high production value, breathtaking cinematography, witty humor and sterling performances from a talented cast.
Directed by Kagiso Lediga
Matwetwe was written and directed by Lediga and executive produced by Black Coffee. It’s an action packed coming-of-age adventure following Lefa and Papi, best friends and recent high school graduates, on the biggest hustle of their young lives. Over the course of New Year’s Eve in the iconic township of Atteridgeville, the boys try to pull off a huge deal, dodge a kingpin gangster and his violent gang members, get the girl and, ultimately, save their own lives in this hilarious but sometimes very serious escapade.
- In three days alone Matwetwe made R980 762 at the box office & cumulative grossing of R6,5 million
- Screened at Fantastic Festival in Texas, Rotterdam Film Festival in Holland, also in South Korea
KINGS OF MULBERRY STREET
Directed by multi-award winning director Judy Naidoo
The charming and hilarious Kings of Mulberry Street tells the story of two young Indian boys who have to find a way to overcome their differences and unite, in order to defeat the bullying local crime lord who’s threatening their families. A marvellous adventure, with universal themes that will appeal to the whole family, the film also pays tribute to classic Bollywood movies and their heroes.
- Screened at the 28th St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF)
- Eligible for Audience Choice Awards for Best Feature and Best International Feature
- Selected for the 24th International Film Festival Schlingel, in Germany.
- In addition, the movie was selected at the Cinekid Film Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Africa in Motion at Edinburgh, UK, and the Oscar qualifying St Louis International Film Festival in St Louis, Missouri, USA
Directed by Sanele Zulu
The film follows a father’s desperate journey to forge a relationship with his daughter after breaking up with her mother. The story was inspired by the real-life story of Kagiso Modupe’s dad and his non-existent relationship with his absent father, which left him scared.
- Made waves in its first weekend at the Box Office grossing R4.1 million in five week
EVERYTHING MUST FALL: (DOCUMENTARY)
Directed by Rehad Desai
An unflinching look at the #FeesMustFall student movement that burst onto the South African political landscape in 2015 as a protest over the cost of education. The story is told by four student leaders at Wits University and their Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib, a left-wing, former anti-apartheid student activist. When Habib’s efforts to contain the protest fail, he brings 1 000 police onto campus, with dire consequences for the young leaders.
- Won The Vaclav Havel Award at One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival this year.
- Won Best Documentary and Best Documentary Director at the SAFTAs
MIRACLE: SHORT FILM
Bongi Ndaba’s Directional Debut
Sisonke feels a crippling guilt for not being able to save her daughter from the trauma of the shack fire that killed her husband. So, she must fix it. Through her searches in different expressions of faith, she looks for an answer and a miracle. Starring actress Linda Sokhulu.
- Screened at New York African Film Festival
- Won Best South African Short Film at Durban International Film Festival
- Linda Sokhulu won “Special Jury Award: Best Performance” In A Shnit Worldwide Short Film Festival – for “Miracle” by Bongi Ndaba
- Screened at FEPASCO & at AFRIFF
- Won “Best Director” atAround International Film Festival for “MIRACLE”
- Screened atSan Francisco Independent Short Film Festival
BACK OF THE MOON
Directed by Angus Gibson
Starring acting gems Richard Lukunku, Moneoa Moshesh, Lemogang Tsipa, Siya Zulu & Thomas Gumede the probing and brilliant masterpieceis set in Sophiatown in the late 50s. It tells the tale of an intellectual but notorious gangster, who on his last day of his life, finds something worth living for, but his gang turns on him and the beautiful woman he has just met.
- Won Best South African Feature Film at Durban International Film Festival
Directed by Lineo Sekeleoane
The story of Lu, who leaves her Zulu/Sotho heritage to become a dancer in America. There she falls in love with a Yankee, whom she decides to bring back home to introduce to her family, only to discover that she has been promised since birth to a Zulu King.