Siyabonga (We Are Thankful)

Feature film, Docufiction, South Africa, Digital, 5.1, 93 mins (2018)

Siyabonga (english title: We Are Thankful), named after the film’s main character Siyabonga Majola, is a docufiction film set in the KwaZulu Natal region of modern day South Africa. It makes use of footage from both the narrative and documentary tradition.

In the film we follow Siyabonga, a young man making theatre plays in the township of Mpophomeni. One day he hears the surprising news that a movie is to be made in a nearby town and he makes it his mission to be part of the film. From conspiring with a maid to steal wifi from the umlungus (white people) so he can write an email to the film producers, to rebuffing a friend’s urgent plea for him to improve his luck through witchcraft, Siyabonga’s journey takes him down many surprising paths that ultimately lead him to meeting with the film’s director. Here we observe the conversation that caused the film we are watching to come into existence.

A film based on real events, re-enacted by those who lived through them, we follow this extraordinary man as he does all he can to try and improve his life and take control of his fortune. Siyabonga’s past echoes in his present in much the same way that South Africa’s own history seems to have left an indelible mark on the people and places of the film. Time moves differently in such spaces. Places are never confined to just the here and now, but rather some kind of eternal memory.

Awards and Selections:

Locarno Film Festival 2018 
Cape Town International Film Market & Festival 2018
Tatham Art Gallery 2018
Slamdance Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Performance (Siyabonga Majola) Slamdance Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Narrative Feature 46th Athens International Film & Video Festival
Winner Best Feature Film Santa Cruz International Film Festival 2019
Sarasota Film Festival 2019
Barbican Chronic Youth Film Festival 2019
Annual Copenhagen Film Festival 2019
Vancouver South African Film Festival 2019
Mashariki African Film Festival 2019
Festival De Cine Africano Tarifa 2019
Festival International du Film Panafricain Cannes 2019
Harlem International Film Festival 2019
Chicago International Film Festival (Summer Screenings program) 2019
Durban International Film Festival 2019
Nòt Film Fest 2019
Newark International Film Festival 2019
Seoul International Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Foreign Documentary 24th Indie Gathering 2019
Winner Best Feature Massachusetts Independent Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Director Massachusetts Independent Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Cinematography Massachusetts Independent Film Festival 2019
Winner Best Actor Massachusetts Independent Film Festival 2019
Hilton Arts Festival 2019
Louisville International Festival of Film 2019
Winner Best Feature Cuidad del Este Independent Film Festival 2019
Toronto South African Film Festival 2019
Films from the South 2019
Africa International Film Festival 2019
Festival Internacional de Cinemas Africans de Barcelona 2019
Polish International Film Festival 2019
Africa Film Festival 2019
Sudan Independent Film Festival 2020
Nara International Film Festival 2020
Winner Best Performance Nara International Film Festival 2020

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