100 World Class South Africans: Gavin Hood

Big-screen hero

Gavin Hood could never have known that studying law at Wits would help with the topic of his breakout film and then inform his work on his first big Hollywood feature, Rendition, eight years later.

To start with, Hood had to get his own projects off the ground in SA’s limited filmmaking landscape, so he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the courtroom drama A Reasonable Man.

It caught the eye of producer Peter Fudakowski, which led to Tsotsi in 2005, SA’s first Oscar-winning movie.

It showed global audiences a Joburg they’d never seen on screen, and introduced them to kwaito music.

Again, Hood’s experience in researching educational dramas about HIV/Aids in the townships in the early 90s paid off.

Also, as he told KPBS Radio: ‘South Africans have wrestled with redemption and forgiveness [the theme of Tsotsi] more than almost anyone else, and very successfully.’

Shooting a gritty gangster film with classic wide-screen cinematography made all the difference.

Hollywood took note, and he’s made a movie every two years since then.

His latest is Ender’s Game, a sci-fi drama for which giant film sets were built in old Nasa hangars.

Like a true South African, Hood’s keeping it real, eschewing an over-reliance on CGI.


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