2009-09-03 15:33

What it's about:

Intonga is the heart warming story of a young man and his fight for acceptance in a new city. He is challenged by a champion boxer when a girl shows too much interest in him, and after some fiery confrontations, Siviwe decides to take him on at his game in boxing. Mentored and trained by an unlikely party, namely a priest, Siviwe begins preparations for the fight, learning valuable life lessons along the way.

What we thought:

South Africa has produced some truly wonderful films. This is not one of them. What could easily be a locally flavoured Rocky-meets-rural-Africa story becomes a cheesy, uninspired student film.

Intonga is South Africa's first full-length Xhosa feature film. But if you don't understand the language, you may be in luck. At least you can read the subtitles rather than be distracted by the actors stumbling over their lines. Even then, their shifty eye contact might give them away.

Siviwe, played by Mzukisi Ntatiso, is a young man who moves into the city with his mother, Zoleka Helesi, who hopes her son will settle into the new environment. When the school bully, Knuckles, played by Mandisi Kile, targets Siviwe, he is forced to fight for respect. Siviwe's angel in disguise is Pastor Duze (Zolilie Sidyoli) who is a central father figure and teaches Siviwe how to box. This is where the film really sinks.

The most torturous shifts in the film take place during Siviwe's training - in his first training session, he saws wood for three minutes. Then he changes stance - and continues sawing for another three minutes. Added to a repetitive xylophone-based soundtrack, could anything be drearier to watch?

While the plot is focused on boxing, the heart of Intonga lies in this burgeoning man discovering faith in God and learning that even in the direst circumstances, help is at hand. Exploring that depth and complexity could have allowed the actors to discover some character subtleties. It's a pity they miss out on this potential and provide stiff acting and bad delivery instead. It's no surprise to discover, then that the film was shot in just ten days.

"Intonga" is a joint venture between Swayani Films and Cape Peninsula University of Technology. While a good attempt for student filmmakers, this film should really have stayed in the classroom.

A boy, a girl, a priest and a trainer. A story of love, acceptance and the human spirit.

Goda 2009/09/07 3:26 PM
  • Rating:
Love it when south african journos treat SA films with enough respect NOT to patronise them. Nice review - exactly what our industry needs.
Ralph 2009/09/08 6:23 AM
Thanks for the words of encouragement.....not !!! The students worked so hard on this movie and to the 'journalist' who wrote this doesn't only take place in the classroom, so sorry we aren't all perfect like you!!!! ..not!!
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