Having headlined the 2012 Durban International Film Festival, the GFC-supported feature film Elelwani, the first Venda-language movie ever produced, will have its world premiere in the Forum section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.


The film joins another local movie, Layla Fourie, at the prestigious 63rd Berlinale, set to run from 7 to 17 February. Layla Fourie will have its world premiere in the Main Competition of the German festival.

Elelwani will also have its market premiere at the European Film Market in Berlin and be represented by sales agent East West Film Distribution.

The Elelwani team on its way to Berlin includes director Ntshavheni Wa Luruli, producers Florian Schattauer and Jyoti Mistry, and lead actress Florence Masebe. The prestigious Heinrich Böll Foundation has chosen Elelwani for its annual event at the Berlinale Forum where Elelwani will be exclusively shown to politicians, members of Parliament and representatives from the NGO sector.

Elelwani, Ntshavheni wa Luruli’s epic tale of a woman’s tribulations and rise to power at the Royal Venda court, was the opening night film at the 2012 Durban International Film Festival. It was funded by the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, the dti rebate, the National Film and Video Foundation, the Department of Arts and Culture, and the Gauteng Film Commission. The movie is locally distributed by Indigenous Film Distribution.

“We congratulate the Elelwani producer, cast and crew, and very proud to see some of the GFC supported projects getting exposure in such a world-class film festival,” says Mzwandile Masina, CEO of the GFC.

Watch the trailer for Elelwani:


Elelwani and her boyfriend are in love and have plans to spend the rest of their lives together. They are both educated and live urban lives with aspirations to travel abroad. After her University graduation Elelwani re¬turns to her family in the rural countryside to introduce her boyfriend and announce her future plans. But the weight of tradition bears heavily on her family and they refuse to accept her union. The father wants his daughter to become the wife of the local king despite his daughter‘s insistent refus¬al. What unfolds is a secret hidden by the royal family from the community and Elelwani is destined to uncover these mysteries and deceptions.

Glorious locations

Written and directed by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, Elelwani tells the story of a young woman who has to negotiate the tension between her Venda traditions and her modern aspirations. Shot for the most part against the glorious green backdrop of the Thohoyandou area of Limpopo, the film’s mature and complex storytelling is complemented by its rich visual delight.

Elelwani deals with the collision of modernity and traditionalism, through an updated, magical realist take on the first and much loved Venda novel of the same name, written by TN Maumela.

Elelwani is the first Venda feature film, in Tshivenda language,” says Luruli. “It is about a progressive young woman growing up in the new South Africa, trying to shed her cultural past but later realising its value; that the past is still relevant in dealing with the present, including the future.”

Luruli is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker whose The Wooden Camera (2003) was awarded the Crystal Bear for best youth feature at the Berlinale in 2004. Additional shooting for Elelwani was done in and around Johannesburg, where GFC stepped in with production support.