Zulu surf film to inspire new South African audience

South African film, Otelo Burning, is the first ever Zulu language surf film, which uses surfing as a metaphor for the struggles of those living in townships during apartheid and the freedom of escaping the harsh realities of township life through sport. The film is expected to inspire a more diverse audience to ride the waves of change.
The film is released in South African cinemas today

Chaning perceptions
At the Billabong Surfing World Championship Tour in Rio last week, sportanddev reported on the work of Favela Surf Club, an organisation giving children in the opportunity to take part in a sport which is usually taken up by wealthier Brazillians. Meanwhile, in South Africa, despite being home to the some of the world's greatest surfing conditions, only one South African, Jordy Smith, is represented in the world top twenty men's ranking. South African journalist, Andy Smith, from Mahala, believes the film "will invariably have a much a larger effect on the world of South African surfing...and is sure to introduce the sport of kings to a whole new audience."

Politics and surfing

The freedoms of those living under apartheid were limited and for those unable to access sport at school, many youth were left stuggling to survive in the townships, highlighted in the sportanddev article, South Africa: where freedom failed, sport prevailed.

The film is set against the backdrop of the political violence between two South African politicial parties, but amidst this, 16 year old Otelo Buthelezi takes to the water to find that surfing can bring an escape to the harsh realities of life.

On the day that Nelson Mandela is released from prison, Otelo is forced to choose between surfing success and justice. The film looks at the enormous potential for change at the time of apartheid's downfall – all seen through the eyes of a child.

The film's producer, Sara Blecher, also produced a television series about the lives of black lifesavers working in one of South Africa's beach communtities in Durban. One of the coaches in the series is based on the real life story of Sthembiso, a swimming coach, who single handedly kept a local pool open during apartheid.

The film is released in South African cinemas today

Watch a trailer for Otelo Burning



Visit the Otelo Burning website for more information


Visit the Mahala website for a review of the film

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