A storyteller at heart

Florence Masebe stars in Elelwani, the world’s first Venda movie.

In a country with 11 official languages, it’s hard to believe the first ever Venda movie is only being released now.

But the idea has been in the works for 10 years, says Florence Masebe, who plays the title character, Elelwani.

‘The director Ntshavheni wa Luruli approached me about it when we were both working on the popular SABC2 soapie Muvhango.

I immediately agreed to be a part of it and we’ve been trying to make that dream a reality ever since,’ she says.

The movie is loosely based on one of the first Venda novels to be published in South Africa.

It’s about a girl who has to leave her true love and return to rural Venda to marry the king.

‘A lot of Venda people already know the story because the book was widely read.

I am excited that others will now get a chance to know the tale,’ she says.

‘It was hard to get funding because we were trying to tell a story about a culture and language most South Africans care little about. But both Ntshavheni and I are from Venda, and the story is close to our hearts so we never gave up on it.’

The film received great praise when it showed at the Berlin Film Festival and the Durban International Film Festival recently.

It also scooped two awards at the African Academy Movie Awards.

‘As much as international audiences enjoyed the film, locals will have more context which I think will make the film interesting to them.’

Florence says. ‘I hope this film leads to more being made in our indigenous languages, because not only do we get to preserve our languages but we also get to tell more of our stories, which is extremely important.’

• Elelwani will be in cinemas from Friday.

Favourite holiday destination

Mapungubwe National Park because I feel completely at peace there.

Signature style item

I have an obsession with bold red accessories – bags, shoes, belts – you name it, I have it in red.

Last book i read

Wangari Maathai’s autobiography Unbowed.


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