Otelo Burning

South African coming-of-age surfing film Otelo Burning has won yet another festival award, this time the Golden Owl for Best Movie by the Audience at the Cinerama.BC International Film Festival in Balneário Camboriú, Brazil, held from 4 to 8 April 2012.

Directed by Sara Blecher (Surfing Soweto), the film tells the story of a group of young township boys who discover the joys of surfing against the backdrop of the violent dying days of apartheid in the late 1980s. It opens in South African cinemas on 11 May 2012.

“The film played to a packed cinema and was highly praised and applauded by the audience,” says Barbara Sturm, curator of the Cinerama.BC Festival. The festival’s organisers exhibit films and documentaries from both well-known and new directors from around the globe. The focus of the festival is on ways of bringing human empathy and sensibility to the big screen.

The Brazil win is the latest in a series of accolades for Otelo Burning. It recently bagged 13 nominations at the 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards, announced in Ghana, and also won the Best South African Feature Film award at the fifth Cape Winelands Film Festival in March.

“This latest win is wonderful news,” says director Blecher. “The cast is mostly made up of young up-and-coming actors, some of whom have come through our workshop process and who are integrally involved in the real world of the story. Their performances are natural and convincing, giving the film an authenticity and sensitivity that captures audiences’ imaginations. It’s particularly exciting to win an audience award in a country like Brazil, which has so many similarities to ours.”

Go behind the scenes of Otelo Burning:

Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film in South Africa, says audience awards bode well for films. “Oscar winner Tsotsi began its journey to the Academy Awards by winning the audience prize at the Edinburgh film festival,” she says. “Audience awards are great indicators of how cinemagoers will respond to a film. This latest win has given us even more confidence that the film is set to become another South African classic.”

The film is in isiZulu with English subtitles and stars a new generation of exciting young actors including Jafta Mamabolo (Generations), Thomas Gumede (A Place Called Home) and Tshepang Mohlomi (Izulu Lami).