Little One, Darrell Roodt’s moving tale of a six-year-old girl found left for dead outside a township in Johannesburg, has been selected for consideration as South Africa’s official entry for best foreign film at next year’s Oscars.

Little One

If approved by the Oscars Academy Award Selection Committee, which makes its final selection of nominees in January, the film will represent South Africa at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in 2013.

Little One is one of several successful projects supported by the Gauteng Film Commission in the second quarter of the 2012/2013 financial year. Its selection was announced at a GFC event in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg on Friday 28 September.

“South Africa has found a new creative idiom,” said GFC chief executive Mzwandile Masina. “With Little One we will emphatically show the world that we are master storytellers and with excellent production values we can compete on a competitive, global entertainment stage.”

Other South African films that have been nominated for the Oscars include Tsotsi, which won the best foreign film Oscar in 2006, and Yesterday (2005), which was also directed by Roodt.

Watch Darrell Roodt discuss Little One:

The official announcement of the selection of Little One was made by the South African Academy Award Selection Committee and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) officially over the weekend.

Recognised by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences as the body to represent South Africa, the NFVF makes the submission on behalf of the South African film industry.

Little One tells a story of a six-year-old girl, played by Vuyelwa Msimang, who is found left for dead on the dunes near a township in Johannesburg. She is found by a middle-aged woman, Pauline (Lindiwe Ndlovu), who rushes her to hospital.

Saving her life, it transpires that the little girl has been raped and her face beaten in so badly that she doesn’t even look human anymore. The story then follows Pauline’s journey as she becomes actively involved with the child’s case, from going to the extreme of kidnapping the girl from the hospital after her unsuccessful attempt to adopt her, to conducting her own investigation into what happened to the little girl.

Little One is basically a story about the lives of ordinary people trying to get through each day,” the NFVF said in its statement. “As tough and harrowing as it is, it is ultimately a tale of love and redemption and hope.”

The film also stars Mutodi Nesheshe as Detective Morena.

“Darrell Roodt’s film Little One is a poignant, moving, and minimalist narrative which is unapologetically South African,” said the South African Academy Award Selection Committee. “It is a universal story made local, with brilliant performances.”

Roodt said the filming the movie “gave me goose bumps every day - a rare experience, trust me. The raw human emotion that poured out of Lindiwe and the other actors was a joy and privilege to film.

“The film is a testament to them and the tiny band of filmmakers that made the film possible,” said Roodt. “I hope it does South Africa proud.”