Streaming service Showmax will be marking Heritage Day with the release of a new, local film titled Umakoti Wethu.
The Safta and Africa Movie Academy Award Best Actress winner Fulu Mugovhani stars in the film and gives another prize-worthy performance as Khathu, a Venda woman struggling to conceive.
The character finds herself in crisis when her Zulu husband’s new job takes them back to KwaZulu-Natal where his overbearing mother and his old flame live.
Fellow Safta nominee Melusi Mbele (Isibaya) co-stars as her husband, Sizwe, alongside rising star Kwanele Mthethwa (Isithembiso, Abomama) delivering a breakthrough performance as Nobuhle, the woman caught in the middle of this love triangle with a twist.
Duduzile Ngcobo (Durban Gen, eHostela, Uzalo) also features as Khathu’s disapproving mother-in-law.
“Umakoti Wethu is about family matters. It follows a couple who are going through a transformation in their relationship. They want to grow their family in every way but with that comes challenges,” said Fulu in a statement.
You may know the actress from productions such as Ayanda, Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word, One Night Kwa Mxolisi, Seriously Single, Ring of Lies and M-Net’s Still Breathing.
“I’ve played many Venda characters but not a lead so it’s great to see a minority language represented on a bigger scale,” she added.
She believes that South African audiences will recognise the family dynamics in Umakoti Wethu as well as the familiar feeling of knowing someone in the position of being unaccepted by the family.
Beyond Black Productions executive producer Moeketsi Moeketsi described the film, Umakoti Wethu, as an attempt to “pay homage to a beautiful part of the isiZulu culture while in the same breath giving voice to those individuals that may not always be heard within that same culture.”
Kwanele, on the other hand, hopes Umakoti Wethu creates more understanding about “what queer people go through almost every single day of their lives.”
She describes her character Nobuhle as “a young lady who comes from a well-respected family. She grew up under this immense pressure to do good and be perfect. Nobuhle discovers that she is lesbian but she doesn’t have the courage to act on it. She finds it difficult to come out because of how taboo homosexuality is in her community.”
She said: “I hope that our audience will learn that sometimes you should do what you want because life is too short. You don’t want to regret not doing what you’ve always wanted to do, just because you’re worried about other people’s opinions.”
Umakoti Wethu is the feature film directorial debut of Nozipho Nkelemba, who starred in The Forgotten Kingdom, directed Gomora and wrote Emoyeni.
Christopher Mashile co-directs and executive produces. Moeketsi, Christopher and writer Nandisa Mkize, the co-founders of Beyond Black Productions, are all MultiChoice Talent Factory graduates.