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Studying Tsotsi

abateman | Monday November 22, 2010

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Film Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Film Studies

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Using Tsotsi in Examinations and Assessments

This guide is aimed at WJEC Film Studies students who are studying Tsotsi for their focus film on Paper 2 (Exploring Films Ouside Hollywood)in the GCSE examination.

Tsotsi was made in 2005 and is based upon Athol Fugard’s novel of the same name and was directed by Gavin Hood. With the dialogue a mixture of Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans, the film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film at the 2006 Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the BAFTA awards in the same year.

The term Tsotsi is a slang term common in the township areas of Johannesburg where the film is partly set which translates as ‘thug’; it is also the name by which the central character chooses to be known. Tsotsi is the leader of a gang of street hoodlums which consists of himself, Aap, Butcher and Boston or Teacher. A sequence of events which includes a murder and a brutal falling out between Tsotsi and Boston leads to Tsotsi walking out on his friends and thus begins a journey of redemption and atonement.

Left to right Aap, Tsotsi, Butcher and Boston, a ramshackle group of street hoods in modern day South Africa.

The Setting

There are two elements to consider when analysing the setting of the film.  First there is the time setting in modern day South Africa, a country which experienced a system of racial segregation and inequality known as Apartheid from 1948 to 1994. In this system, the minority white immigrant population held power over the majority black indigenous population who were denied most of the rights and liberties enjoyed by the white population. Following intensive campaigning both within and outside South Africa, and resistance from the white government, the system was finally abolished yet this film is designed to show how whilst legally and morally free from the constraints of Apartheid, the inequalities and disadvantages suffered by black...

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