Thursday, September 22, 2005

Straight Outta Benoni

Straight Outta Benoni is a comedy about two lifelong friends in search of fame - in which they star along with director Trevor Clarence, Tanit Phoenix, Colin Moss and a few other eye-candy celebrities.

Brendan and Gavin are lifelong friends who feel comfortable with fame and international adoration. Even though they haven't achieved it yet. They're just like any other small town guys - they enjoy playing in a band, reviewing book reviews and busting mad sickness whenever they can. They also have brand new jobs in advertising. Unfortunately their world falls apart after they lose their jobs, a day before their ten-year school reunion - a day they've dreamt about for, well, ten years. The pressure's suddenly on to achieve. All they have to do is get their band signed to a label, get cast in an American movie, avoid being arrested by a deluded cop, entertain a rowdy kids party, produce world-class marketing ideas, outsmart their nemesis, woo a starlet, get their picture in the newspaper and beat all the odds against them... Before tomorrow.

They've got twenty-four hours to achieve overnight success, and nothing can stop them... Except maybe themselves.


Crazy Monkey started out as four guys made up of Trevor Clarence, Brendan Jack, Gavin Williams and Brett Goldin, having fun with a video camera, making fun of extreme culture, and has turned into an international phenomenon.

Crazy Monkey is a series of spots made for MTV as idents to go between music videos. The team behind Crazy Monkey first made them in the hope of MTV just flighting them at least once, and thus staking the South African flag on the airwaves of the world's music channel.

MTV loved them. They were soon picked up by all the MTV regions in Europe, Canada, South America, Australia and Asia. They even dubbed the spots into German. It wasn't long before they commissioned more spots, and even flew the guys to London to shoot some 'Crazy Monkey in the UK'.

There have been entire weekends on MTV in the UK, Canada and Scandanavia that have been devoted to Crazy Monkey. A Canadian wrestler is such a fan, that he even changed his name to Trevor Clarence, after one of the shows creators!!

Besides winning themselves a healthy number of international awards, the guys behind Crazy Monkey have really achieved something special in being among the first South African entertainers to have found international success.

Now the Crazy Monkey guys are embarking on an even bigger journey, teaming up with producers Ronnie Apteker and Tendeka Matatu to bring you their first feature film, "Straight Outta Benoni".

Monday, September 19, 2005


Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto - where survival is the primary objective - TSOTSI traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking.

TSOTSI is a gritty and moving portrait of an angry young man living in a state of extreme urban deprivation. His world pumps with the raw energy of "Kwaito music" - the modern beat of the ghetto that reflects his troubled state of mind.

The film is a psychological thriller in which the protagonist is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions. It puts a human face on both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime and is ultimately a story of hope and a triumph of love over rage.

"Tsotsi" literally means "thug" or "gangster" in the street language of South Africa's townships and ghettos. "Kwaito" is South Africa's answer to American Hip Hop.

Longer Synopsis

In a shantytown on the edges of Johannesburg, South Africa, nineteen year old Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) has repressed any memory of his past, including his real name: "Tsotsi" simply means "thug" or "gangster" in the street language of the ghetto.

Orphaned at an early age and compelled to claw his way to adulthood alone, Tsotsi has lived a life of extreme social and psychological deprivation. A feral being with scant regard for the feelings of others, he has hardened himself against any feelings of compassion. Ruled only by impulse and instinct, he is fuelled by the fear he instills in others. With no name, no past and no plan for the future, he exists only in an angry present. Tsotsi heads up his own posse of social misfits, Boston, a failed teacher (Mothusi Magano), Butcher, a cold-blooded assassin (Zenzo Ngqobe) and Aap, a dim-witted heavy (Kenneth Nkosi.)

One night, during an alcohol-fueled evening at a local shebeen (illicit liquor bar) Tsotsi is put under pressure by a drunken Boston to reveal something of his past; or at the very least, his real name. But Tsotsi reveals nothing. The questions evoke painful, long repressed memories that Tsotsi would prefer to keep buried. Still, Boston keeps asking. The other gang members sense a rising anger in Tsotsi and try to stop the interrogation, but Boston keeps pushing, prodding, digging. Suddenly, Tsotsi lashes out with his fists and beats Boston's face to a pulp. The violence is brief but extreme.

Tsotsi turns and flees into the night. He runs wildly, desperate to escape the pain of unwelcome images rising in his mind. By the time he stops running he has crossed from the shantytown into the more affluent suburbs of the city. He collapses under a tree. It is raining hard. A woman in a driveway is struggling to open her motorised gate with a faulty electronic remote. Tsotsi draws his gun. It's an easy opportunity for an impromptu car jacking. As he races away in the woman's silver BMW, he hears the cry of a child. There's a 3 month old baby in the back of the car. Tsotsi loses control of the vehicle and crashes to a stop on the verge of a deserted road. The car is a write-off.

Tsotsi staggers from the vehicle. The baby is screaming. Tsotsi walks away. Then he turns back. The baby calms slightly when Tsotsi looks at it. This unsettles him. He hesitates. An unfamiliar feeling stirs within him: an impulse other than his pure instinct for personal survival. Suddenly, he gathers up the infant, shoves it into a large shopping bag and heads for the shantytown on foot. Tsotsi does not reveal to anyone that he has the child. He hides it from his gang. At first he thinks he can care for it alone. Keep it in his shack. Feed it on condensed milk. But he soon realizes that he cannot cope. The baby screams constantly and his attempts to feed it fail miserably.

At the community water tap, Tsotsi selects a young woman with a baby of her own and secretly follows her back to her home. Forcing his way in behind her, he makes the terrified woman breastfeed "his" baby at gunpoint.

The young mother, Miriam (Terry Pheto), is only a few years older than Tsotsi. She has recently lost her husband to violent crime and lives alone with her baby, making ends meet as a seamstress. At first Miriam is very frightened by Tsotsi. But gradually she takes on the role of both mother to the baby and mentor to the desensitized young gangster. As their relationship tentatively progresses, Tsotsi is compelled to confront his own violent nature and to reveal his past.

Tsotsi wins Toronto audience prize

Tsotsi has won the Toronto film festival audience prize.

Having taken home the audience award at Edinburgh this year, Gavin Hood's 'Tsotsi' achieved the same feat in Toronto over the weekend, walking away with the People's Choice Award at the city's international film festival.

Tsotsi will also be the opening film at this year's Cape Town World Cinema Festival (11 - 20 November).