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Tanzania, 5 August 2010: South African filmmaker wins UNICEF Child Rights Award at Zanzibar festival

‘Themba: A Boy Called Hope’ honoured

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 5 August 2010 – South African filmmaker Stefanie Sycholt's ‘Themba: A Boy Called Hope’ has won the UNICEF Child Rights Award at the 2010 Zanzibar International Film Festival.

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for ‘Themba: A Boy Called Hope,’ which tells the story of a local boy who triumphs against adversity in South Africa's Eastern Cape.

UNICEF Tanzania presents the Child Rights Award during the Zanzibar festival each year to honour the film that best exemplifies the struggle for the fulfillment of children’s fundamental rights in the region.

At the German gala premiere of ‘Themba’ in Cologne earlier this week, Ms. Sycholt received the award from child-rights advocate Anne Luetkes, a board member with the German National Committee for UNICEF.

© 'Themba'/2010
A scene from South African filmmaker Stefanie Sycholt's 'Themba: A Boy Called Hope,' winner of the UNICEF Child Rights Award at the 2010 Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Overcoming adversity

Ms. Sycholt’s film tells the story of a young South African boy's efforts to overcome adversity and fulfill his football dreams. Amidst poverty, abandonment, HIV and other challenges, ‘Themba’ expresses the hope that is born out of sheer determination, commitment and resilience.

The film features young South African actor Nat Singo and former football goalkeeper Jens Lehmann of Germany in his film debut. Mr. Lehman was brought into the production by Ms. Sycholt, who divides her time working in Germany, South Africa and Argentina. She and Mr. Lehman were both were in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the timely South African premiere of ‘Themba’ in June.

Ms. Sycholt expressed delight that others had recognized her efforts to truly portray the harsh conditions facing many South African children.

“I firmly believe that ‘Themba’ will do so much more than entertain,” she said. “It will allow audiences across the world to get a glimpse of our common humanity, to live for 90 minutes a life of hardship and desperation, but a life in which … hope is never absent.”

Submissions for 2011 award

The UNICEF Child Rights Award at last year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival went to ‘Mother Unknown’ by Sudanese director Taghreed Alsanhouri, whose film tells the story of babies in Khartoum whose parents abandon them to avoid stigma and punishment for having children out of wedlock.

Ms. Alsanhouri received her award in person during the 2009 Zanzibar festival from UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover.

Plans for the 2011 festival are advancing. Filmmakers interested in submitting their work for the UNICEF Child Rights Award should explore the Zanzibar International Film Festival website, which includes entry details and contact information.





Related links

'Themba' website
(external link, opens in a new window)


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