The Durban International Film Festival is around the corner and is opening its fortieth year with the film, Knuckle City. Directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, it follows the journey of aging boxer Dudu Nyakama trying to rise above the challenges faced both inside and out the ring.
Bongile Mantsai takes on the role of Dudu. A star of film, television, and stage, Mantsai is also renowned for his work as Vija in 2017’s Inxeba. Knuckle City is not his first outing with Qubeka. The pair have worked together before, in 2018’s Sew the Winter to my Skin. Do we detect a future Scorsese-De Niro-like partnering?
Joining Mantsai in Knuckle City is many a familiar South African actor. Check out who’s who in the film and where you may have spotted them before.
Thembekile Komani, plays Duke Nyakama
The actor and dancer has appeared in Nkululeko on Mzansi Magic, which also featured Mantsai. In addition, Komani landed roles in JAB and The Girl from St. Agnes.
Faniswa Yisa, plays Mother Hen
The Fleur du Cap-award-winning actress is no stranger to stage or screen. On television, she’s had roles in shows like Ingoma and Isikizi.
Patrick Ndlovu, plays Bra Pat
From Sarafina! to Cry, the Beloved Country, Ndlovu has several big films under his belt, as well as many beloved TV shows. At the moment, you can watch him as Uncle Koloi in Isithembiso.
Siv Ngesi, plays Goatee
You’ll have spotted Ngesi in any number of Hollywood movies and series including Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Invictus, and Black Sails. He’s also known for his stand-up comedy and globe-trotting with Janez Vermeiren in Wingin’ It, which aired on M-Net. Check out pictures here to inspire your wanderlust.
Owen Sejake, plays Bra Links
A stalwart of the stage, Sejake is also a familiar face on South African television. He has appeared in numerous TV series over the years, including his role as Joseph Mdluli in Isibaya.
Awethu Hleli, plays Nosisi
She’s done Shakespeare. She’s done television. And of course we’ll get to see her on the big screen, with Knuckle City.
Zolisa Xaluva, plays Art Nyakama
Here’s another Qubeka connection: Xaluva also appeared in Sew the Winter to My Skin, for which he won a SAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film. You can currently watch him as Diamond Mabuza in The Queen and as Sello in The Throne.
Angela Sithole, plays Minky
Many will already be familiar with Xaluva’s The Queen co-star Angela Sithole from her appearances in shows like Isibaya, Rockville, and Zabalaza.
Nomhle Nkonyeni, plays Ma Bokwana
The veteran actress sadly passed away this week, and Knuckle City is her final film. She’s had a prolific career, also appearing in Qubeka’s Sew the Winter to My Skin. Rest in peace, mama.
Athenkosi Mfamela, plays Bloodshot
This actor of both stage and screen has another boxing connection because he appeared in King Kong. No, not the Peter Jackson creature feature. We’re talking about the stage musical set in Sophiatown, which revolved around the legend of heavyweight boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini.
Inganathi Mthizane, plays young Dudu
The younger version of Mantsai’s character is played by the young Mthizane. The actor hails from Mdantsane, where the film is set.
Elethu Mfombi, plays young Duke
Also hailing from Mdantsane is this young actor, who takes on the younger version of Thembekile Komani’s character in Knuckle City.
Mbasa Tsetsana, plays Mondli
Writer, actor, and director, Tsetsana wears many talented hats. In 2008 he appeared in the film uMalusi, which was co-written by Qubeka.
Khulu Skenjana, plays Square Jaw
Actor and voice artist Skenjana is also a familiar face on South African television, having appeared in Binnelanders, Entabeni, Erfsondes, Jacob’s Cross, and Lockdown.
The 40th Durban International Film Festival runs from 18 to 28 July 2019.
Knuckle City will open the festival on 18 July.
Watch the trailer here.