African Gangsta

The swaggering hoodlum has become a staple of American film, from James Cagney in 1931’s The Public Enemy to 50 Cent in the recent biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The infectious thump of gangsta rap and glamorized images of thug life have found international acceptance in the favela slums of Rio de Janeiro, the ghettoized housing projects in Paris, and in the tin-roof shanty towns of Soweto. Tsotsi is set in the broiling, dusty streets of South Africa, but the protagonist (played to perfection by Presley Chweneyagae) remains cool in his black leather jacket as he commits heartbreakingly violent crimes. Tsotsi means “thug” in South Africa’s Tsotsitaal patois, and Chweneyagae’s glowering demeanor is instantly evocative of today’s rap stars. The film’s setting and the plot’s bittersweet twist separate this cinematic gem from the exploitative wanksta wannabes. Tsotsi has won eleven international awards, including the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. See it tonight at 8:30 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. Tickets range from six to ten dollars. Call 305-67-FILMS, or visit
Fri., July 21
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik