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More Than Just a Game

2008-06-02 08:32
What it's about:

Narrated by five ex-political prisoners, this docu-drama follows the formation of the Makana Football Association on Robben Island during the late 1950s. Anthony Suze (Wright Ngubeni), Mark Shinners (Presley Chweneyagae), Lizo Sote (Tshepo Maseko), Sedick Isaacs (Az Abrahams) and Marcus Solomons (Merlin Balie) tell a story of hope and perseverance on an island that robbed many of their dignity and their lives, and is a story of how the game of soccer united prisoners separated by political affiliation.

What we think of it:

Forget every feature film or documentary you've ever seen about Robben Island. Forget the depressing, murky imagery of the penal island and lay aside the bleak emotions they elicit. More Than Just a Game is a beautifully told story of inspiration, hope and joy.

Director Junaid Ahmed employs five narrators (all ex-prisoners of the island) and artfully weaves the different commentary into one clear retelling of how the simple sport of soccer allowed political prisoners to escape the horrors of the island, organise a FIFA-like fraternity and most importantly practice the basic principles of democracy through the Makana Football Association.

While writer Tom Eaton teams up with Ahmed to create at times highly amusing but always appropriate dialogue, it's the chemistry between the lead actors that ultimately sells the brotherly bond at the heart of More Than Just a Game. Wright Ngubeni (TV soap "Generations"), Presley Chweneyagae (Tsotsi 2006), Tshepo Maseko (TV soap "Isidingo"), Az Abrahams (Confessions of a Gambler 2008) and Merlin Balie (A Boy Called Twist 2004 and The Silent Fall 2006) fall into a familiar rapport, effortlessly feeding off each other's talents and avoiding those awkward silent cues seen in so many local feature films.

More Than Just a Game sets a high precedent for future local releases, and might be the best South African film released in 2008.

- Megan Kakora

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From the bleak setting of Robben Island prison colony comes a beautifully told story of inspiration, hope and joy.

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WOW! Cant wait to go and see this. Our country has so many awesome stories to be told and so many good actors to play in them.

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