Gavin Hood
Release Year:
South Africa
Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Terry Phaeto
Screening Date:
  • 2 Oct 2007
  • Categories:
    Crime, Drama

    Best Foreign Language film of 2006, Tsotsi is a gripping tale of redemption. A young Tsotsi (thug) finds himself caring for a baby and reviewing his own life. The passionate direction and pulsating soundtrack portray the brutal divide between the township and gated suburbs of Johannesburg.

    Film Notes

    'Tsotsi' is South African township slang for thug and Presley Chweneyagae's young thief is one such. Brutalised and brutal, in an uncaring world, he steals a car with a surprise package in the back - a baby, who magically, but believably, starts to exert a humanising influence. Shot on location in Johannesburg, it's a riveting drama, steeped in the realities of township life.
    The Guardian August 2007
    Tsotsi won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film and it's not difficult to see why: as a classic tale of loss, love and redemption, transported into the townships of South Africa, it was bound to resonate on Hollywood. It is a powerful and moving film.about how Tsotsi deals with having taken the baby from its parents, but more accurately it is about Tsotsi achieving 'decency'. Ultimately 'Tsotsi' is a morality tale that shows us that 'decency' can be found anywhere, even in the townships of Johannesburg.
    Culture Wars 2007
    The issues in this film are very much about the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Really we wanted to make a film about a young guy who's angry and struggling with his own identity, who becomes a young man. In a sense it's a coming-of-age story, a universal story, but set in an extreme place... Men like Mandela and De Klerk and Tutu... taught us about redemption and personal responsibility, and forgiveness. And I think that these themes are themes that South Africans proudly understand. The themes of redemption, forgiveness and personal responsibility are at the core of 'Tsotsi'.
    Gavin Hood Director 2005, on BBC News
    The ever-present violence drives the film, giving it a gritty edge, but the real core of the drama is in the characterisation and particularly the relationship between Tsotsi and Miriam. Starting as a tense kidnapper-victim equation, it slowly evolves into something more. It's highly impressive that the director manages to pull this off without sentimentality and the performances are perfectly pitched, especially from Presley Chweneyagae, who has the tricky job of turning from a brutally blank slate into a damaged young man.
    Channel 4 Film Review 2005

    What you thought about Tsotsi

    Film Responses

    Excellent Good Average Poor Very Poor
    36 (78%) 10 (22%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
    Total Number of Responses: 46
    Film Score (0-5): 4.78

    Collated Response Comments

    Tsotsi was clearly a film that made a sustained impact on you, the audience. There was a common strand of a strong emotional response to character, situation and event: 'very moving', 'effective, lots of atmosphere', 'powerful and emotional', 'amazing, it blew me away', 'I've been through the emotional wringer', 'moving and gripping', 'wonderfully moving'. Alongside these reactions was an awareness of the power of the narrative and the social content in opening up the new and wider perspectives. 'A graphic description of life in South Africa', 'Great movie, harrowing story, the baby... a simple defenceless being in the harsh background of life in a township', 'holds a mirror up to us all being fortunate enough to be born with privileges', 'vivid and scary depiction of South Africa', 'captured the squalor and the social pressures of the township brilliantly', 'provocative... no easy answers', 'the meaning of life in every sense', 'a world we rarely see', 'unexpected interesting comment on race and class in South Africa'. About a third of you gave specific praise to the music, the acting and the photography and their contribution to the film's quality. 'Brilliant score', 'wonderful music', 'the acting, music and photography were so good', 'lovely performances', 'wonderful photography, acting and music', 'great music and photography', 'wicked sound track'. Within this overwhelming positive response, the film raised one or two subtle reservations and questions for some of you. 'A rather contrived ending', 'some bits unrealistic but ultimately very meaningful', 'could someone as brutal as Tsotsi become a loving human being in just a few days?'. This was counter balanced by a sense that 'redemption is possible' and that 'the emotional quality of the conclusion showed that Tsotsi had achieved decency'. So, overall, a film that made you feel strongly and think widely - a tribute to its creative energy.

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