2019 Toronto South African Film Festival Films2019-08-21T19:07:38+00:00
Toronto South African Film Festival

Siyabonga (We Are Thankful) 

Screening Date/Time: TBA


Like a South African version of Roma, Siyabonga guides us at a leisurely pace through the real life adventures of aspiring actor Siyabonga Majola. One day he hears the surprising news that a movie is to be made in a nearby town and makes it his mission to be a part of the film.  Based on real events re-enacted by those who lived through them, Siyabonga is at times funny, at times bittersweet, at times painful, but always thoughtful.  More than any movie we’ve screened at VSAFF in the last few years, Siyabonga illuminates the day-to-day life of a semi-rural township.  No flash, no melodrama, no cinematic tricks.  Just reality. What the critics say… “For those who still firmly believe that cinema is the place where urgent and essential aspects of life can be shown most naturally, then Joshua Magor’s Siyabonga (We Are Thankful) is a must-see.” Lorenzo Esposito – Locarno Film Festival “We Are Thankful and its protagonists are genuine, real and undeniably lovely in their authenticity.”  Paige Zuckerman – Slug Magazine “For hardcore cinephiles who are used to sensational South-African films depicting abominable racism, vehement violence and toxic masculinity, Siyabonga… is like a breezy wind… which makes us smile …”  Saitosuta- MUBI […]

Kanarie (Canary)

Screening Date/Time: TBA


Set in 1985 against a backdrop of apartheid, religion, and war, Kanarie follows a teen boy, Johan Niemand, who has always been bullied in his small town for his flair for British new wave music and love of Boy George. When he gets called up by the military and auditions for the Canaries (the South African Defence Force Church Choir and Concert Group), he believes the choir will be his ticket out of fighting the war, but he begins to see the role he plays in the oppression and injustice around him. On tour, he develops feelings for a fellow Canary and he starts to question everything he knows about himself. Kanarie is a love story – a film about finding individuality in a world of oppression and uniformity. What the critics say… “ … one of those rare gems …. laced with provocative arguments about religion, patriotism and sexuality …. one of the best South African movies in years.” Peter Feldman – The Citizen “God and country and Culture Club all figure in [this] South African musical drama …. the film never turns preachy, wisely maintaining its focus on one young man’s awakening …” The Hollywood Reporter “Kanarie is …. a […]

Nommer 37 (Number 37)

Screening Date/Time: TBA


Nommer 37 is a taut thriller inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film-noir classic “Rear Window”.  Award-winning South African writer-director Nosipho Dumisa makes her feature debut and ratchets up the tension until it crackles.  A paraplegic man Randall (Irshaad Ally) and his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman) play a risky game of cat and mouse when they blackmail a powerful criminal (David Manuel) while evading a sadistic loan shark (Danny Ross). The rich and intimate cinematography, on-location in Cape Flats locales, enhances the film and contributes to the high drama. We are trapped, together with Randall and Pam, both in their sketchy apartment and in their desperate attempts to escape their moral and economic destinies. What the critics say… “ … the sadistically intricate rapport between Randall and Pam [is] the main draw here.  The further they sink into their spiralling criminal scheme, the deeper their passion for each other grows, and it’s quite thrilling to watch.”  Keith Uhlich – The Hollywood Reporter “Nosipho Dumisa has paid tribute to a classic, while simultaneously building something completely her own. Hitchcock would be proud.”  Aaron B. Peterson – The Hollywood Outsider. “ … a slick and entertaining film with gutsy performances …” Kwanele Sosibo – Mail […]

The Snowball Rolled South

Screening Date/Time: TBA


Even though it seems that Lithuania and South Africa have nothing in common, one community proves it wrong. Almost all – about 90% – of around 80,000 Jews in South Africa are Litvaks – originally from Lithuania – a country once known for its thriving Jewish community and culture and its capital dubbed “Jerusalem of the north”. During more than a century Litvaks successfully established themselves in South Africa. Some of them became well known in the art or business world, others immersed into political world, including fighting against apartheid. The vibrant Litvak community in South Africa finds its ways to cherish bonds with Lithuania. But what will the future unfold? Will the young generation be interested in their grandparents’ homeland? What does Lithuania mean for them? Does the Litvak identity exists? Why so many people only want to forget ‘The Old Country’? This documentary strives to answer all these and more questions by giving a platform to the Litvak community in South Africa to tell their story: story through different generations, from the ones who remember their trip from Lithuania to SA themselves to the ones who know this only from their grandparents’ and parents’ stories and want (or not) […]

Sisters of the Wilderness

Screening Date/Time: TBA


Set in the iMfolozi wilderness, South Africa, in the oldest game park in Africa, Sisters of the Wilderness tells the story of five young Zulu women from underprivileged backgrounds going into the wilderness for the first time in their lives on a self-discovery journey, which offers them an opportunity to grow and heal, and serves as a reminder that we are intimately linked to nature and what we do to her we do to ourselves. The film also explores the plight of the primordial iMfolozi wilderness which is severely threatened by an open-cast coal mine on its border, and the dire rhino poaching, in this park, with the highest rates of poaching in more than a century. Honours People’s Choice: Best Documentary – Vancouver South African Film Festival 2019 Director: Karin Slater Producer: Ronit Shapiro Running Time: 90 minutes Language: Zulu with English subtitles

Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story 

Screening Date/Time: Sun. Oct. 20, 2019 11:00


Ellen describes the troubled relationship between a mother and her son. Followed by a panel discussion with the Hon. Judy Darcy, B.C. Minister of Mental Health & Addictions