A refreshing new South African filmDaniel Dercksen
Daniel Dercksen: Zama Zama is a refreshing new South African film that breaks away from worn-out conventions and tired clichés and goes underground.
Not underground as in the ‘Warhol’ sense, but really deep underground into the underbelly of illegal miners, where men are imprisoned by greed and poverty, and their hope for survival fuelled by resolute rebellion.
The story focuses on a successful black businessman, who has just purchased a gold mine together with a small group of shareholders. He discovers Zama Zama (illegal miners) in their mine and immerses himself into the world of the Zama Zama, which is guarded by cartels and extreme violence.
Writer-director Vickus Strijdom makes his impressive feature-film debut and is a young director to keep an eye on; with Zama Zama he does not exploit the explosive subject matter, but hinges his emotional loaded story on the Cain and Abel scenario.
Two brothers, separated by irreconcilable differences and living in two different worlds that reflect the best and the worst of the New South Africa, are forced to make amends and go to the extreme to redeem their guilt and afflictions.
Lindani Nkosi (Drum, Wild at heart and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) delivers a sterling performance as the older and wiser brother, with great support from Presley Chweneyagae (Tsotsi, More Than Just a Game, State of Violence) equally impressive as the younger, rebellious brother.
Another noteworthy performance is that of Khulu M Skenjana (Invictus, Sniper Reloaded), as a gangster who makes quite a lot of money because of the illegal mining cartel he is running.
The heartfelt performances under Strijdom’s impassioned direction, successfully captures the fear and trepidation that most South Africans face daily.
Zama Zama is a well-crafted and well told story that showcases South African filmmaking at its best.
It’s good to find that local films are breaking away from the ‘lekker’ and giving us films with bite that reflect humanity in South African with meaningful intent.
If you are looking for entertainment that is driven by vibrant characters that is insightful and intriguing, Zama Zama won’t disappoint.
Freelance Film and Theatre Journalist
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