By Onke Ngcuka
Cast: Anastasia Augustus, Lungile Cindi, Mbeko Cindi, Karabo Dikolomela, Neo Erasmus, Sibusiso Khwinana, Kgomotso Lediga, Mimi Mamabolo
Director: Kagiso Lediga
Vuvu rating: 6.5/10
Do what is necessary to afford yourself a better life. This is the message that is humorously highlighted by director Kagiso Lediga in his film, Matwetwe (Wizard), which was released in 17 South African cinemas on Friday, January 25.
The movie tells the story of two best friends, Lefa (Sibusiso Khwinana) and Papi (Tebatso Mashishi) that have just matriculated. The comedy follows the best friends on New Year’s Eve in their township, Atteridgeville, as they try and make money from the weed that they grow, which they name ‘Matwetwe’.
Lefa, the reserved one of the two, has been accepted into Wits University to study botany, an achievement highly celebrated by the community. Papi on the other hand, who considers himself a ladies’ man – a fact true only to himself – hopes to make a quick buck here and there to spend on the “good life” – the ladies and alcohol.
Narrated by three township dwellers, the movie invites the audience along the hilarious adventure of the two young men as they come across several kasi characters, including murderers, the township’s ‘mad man’ and the gangsters trying to get their hands onto the boys’ product.
Lediga, who also wrote the movie, does a great job on the character sketches as they bring the township to life, and give the audience greater insight into kasi culture. While the movie did well on the character sketches, this was at the expense of the storyline which fell short.
The comedic talent of Lediga shines bright in the comedy as it uplifts the difficulties of transitioning into adulthood faced by the boys as they reach out towards independence. The young men’s relationship strengthens as they face challenges in selling their product, however, Lefa’s secret threatens this friendship, resulting in an unexpected turn of events.
The film came under fire on social media in the week of its premier for the lack of advertising from its executive producer and international DJ, Black Coffee. Regardless, the film did well in cinemas on its opening weekend January 25-27, as it came fourth at the South African box office, according to Screen Africa.
Matwetwe is a good South African comedy. It isn’t great, but highlights that local is lekker. The film has been screened in the US at Urban World, the biggest genre festival in the US, Fantastic Festival, and International Film Festival Rotterdam in Europe. Matwetwe is expected to screen at more cinemas across the country.
FEATURED IMAGE: Matwetwe tells the story of two young men seeking to make better lives for themselves. Photo: Onke Ngcuka