Teaching Tsotsi: Notes


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Notes and a SOW for teaching Tsotsi.

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Teaching Tsotsi: Notes

  1. 1. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 1 Teaching Tsotsi contents 2 About Tsotsi 3 Awards 4 Biographies 5 Context 6 ‘Thug’ 7 Activity: Protagonist/Antagonist 8 Narrative 9 Activity: Narrative Viewing Sheet 10 Themes 12 Audience 13 Industry 14 Teaching Tsotsi: Scheme of Work 16 Tsotsi mindmap 17 Stereotypes
  2. 2. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 2 About Tsotsi Presley Chweneyagae: Tsotsi Set in contemporary own brutal nature and face the Tsotsi Johannesburg, in the township consequences of his actions. It Directed by Gavin Hood of Soweto – where, post- puts a human face on both the Written by Athol Fugard Apartheid survival is still a victims and the perpetrators of difficult and fraught process violent crime and is ultimately Cast for many South Africans, who a story of hope and a triumph of Tsotsi: Presley Chweneyagae struggle to get out of poverty. love over rage. Butcher: Zenzo Nggobe Tsotsi traces six days in the life The film is both violent and Boston: Motusi Mogano of a ruthless young gang leader thoughtful, it reflects the reality Aap: Kenneth Nkosi whose life of crime brings him of living in the slums of Soweto Miram: Terry Pheto to a crossroads that involves his but it also offers glimpses of the Fela: Zola own self discovery as a caring new South Africa as it struggles John: Rapulana Seiphemo human being. with the widening gap between Pumla: Nambitha Mpumlwana Tsotsi is a gritty and moving the haves Soekie: Thembi Nyandeni portrait of a typically angry and the have Zuma: Percy Matesemela young man who is alienated nots – in a Smit: Ian Roberts from family, friends and the land where The UK Film & TV Production world around him. He has no the colour Company PLC access to the new South Africa of your Industrial Development Corporation of so he seeks to take it with skin is no South Africa violence and threat. longer the The National Film and Video The film is a psychological definition Foundation of SA thriller in which the protagonist of your Moviworld (in association with) is compelled to confront his character. Tsotsi Films
  3. 3. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 3 AWARDS Speech by Gavin Hood, director ACADEMY AWARD of Tsotsi, accepting the Academy Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (2006) Award for Best Foreign Language BAFTA 2006 Nomination The Carl Foreman Award Film of the Year (2006) Film Not In The English Language. Pan African Film and Arts Festival 2006 Award “God bless Africa. Wow. I have a speech, Jury Prize for Best Feature it’s in my pocket, but that thing says 38 Santa Barbara Film Festival 2006 Award seconds. But mine’s way too long. Go to Audience Award tsotsi.com and there is a huge long list of Thessaloniki Film Festival 2005 Award people. Because I’m accepting this not for Independence Day section, Greek Parliament’s Human Values Award myself. This is for best foreign language Denver International Film Festival 2005 Award film. It is sitting right there to start with. Audience Award Please stand up Presley Chweneyagae Cape Town World Cinema Festival 2005 Award and Terry Pheto. My two fantastic young Critics Jury Award leads. Put the cameras on them, please. St. Louis International Film Festival 2005 Award Viva Africa. Viva. I’ve got ten seconds. Audience Choice Award Ten seconds Los Angeles AFI Film Festival 2005 Award I just want to thank my fellow nominees Audience Award who I’ve become deep friends with. We The Toronto International Film Festival 2005 Award may have foreign language films, but People’s Choice Award our stories are the same as your stories. The Edinburgh International Film Festival 2005 Award The Michael Powell Award For Best New British Feature They’re about the human heart and emotion. It says please wrap. Thank you Film Standard Life Audience Award so much. Thank you to the Academy. Thank you.” Presley Chweneyagae, Nelson Mandela, Terry Pheto: by Helen Kuun, Sterkinekor
  4. 4. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 4 Biographies Athol Fugard – In 1998 Gavin made his 35mm Writer film directing Tsotsi is the only novel ever debut with a 22- written by the prolific playwright minute short called Athol Fugard. Written in the The Storekeeper. early 1960’s around the time of The film went on his first stage success, The Blood to win thirteen Knot, and set in the 1950’s, it international film remained unpublished until festival awards 1980, by which time plays of including the Fugard’s like Boesman and Grand Prize at Lena, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and the Melbourne Master Harold and the Boys International had become big international Film Festival in stage successes. Australia. Next he won a Gavin Hood – Diane Thomas Presley Screenwriting Award for his Director first screenplay, A Reasonable Chweneyagae – After graduating with a degree Man. The script was inspired by Tsotsi in law in South Africa, Gavin a case of ritual murder. Judges Presley has had no formal worked briefly as an actor before included Steven Spielberg, drama training. Prior to heading to the US to study Michael Douglas. At the 2000 landing the lead role of screenwriting and directing at Sundance Film Festival, Gavin Tsotsi, he acted in school UCLA. was named by Variety as one of plays and in community Gavin returned to South their “Ten Directors To Watch.” theatre projects. He has Africa where he got his first Gavin has gone on to direct performed in a number of writing and directing work X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in productions for North West making educational dramas, production is Tough Trade and Arts (now known as the Gavin won one Artes Award (a a little trivia is that he took a Mmabana Arts Foundation) South African Emmy) and was brief role as bad guy Anubis in and appeared in A nominated for another. the TV series Stargate SG1. Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Puck) and in the play Cards at the Grahamstown Arts Festival. He made his TV acting debut in 2000 in Orlando for SABC TV. Tsotsi is his first feature film. Gavin Hood
  5. 5. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 5 Context Scramble for Africa South Africans, as “apart-hate” demonstrations fed the battle because pronounced thus; against apartheid In one of the more sour ironies its true meaning is exposed. In 1990 Nelson Mandela of European and African history, It refers to the philisophy of was released from prison and the justification for what became separation, which, in theory, was soon to take his place known as the “Scramble for meant that different cultures as president of South Africa, Africa” was the attempt by the could live side by side without majority rule had come at last to British and others to stamp interference. In practice, it South Africa. out slavery, a trade that they, meant the subjugation of the themselves had indulged in since the 16th century. Between black majority to the will of Why is this the white minority. The black 1562 and 1807 European ships majority could not decide where relevant? took more than 11 million While most people would they lived, what they owned people from the continent of accept that any good film (only in Sofiatown could blacks Africa. Even so, as late as 1870, should be able to stand up to own their own property). They only 10% of the land mass was examination because of its did not have access to good jobs, occupied and held by European ability to communicate beyond to certain parts of the city, or the countries. its localised themes, it is also land or to good water fountains, David true that almost Livingstone every text is was someone a product of who combined the influences those ideas in that shape its his own personal culture. The philosophy original story of Africa. He of Tsotsi was believed that the set in the late only salvation 1950s, at the for the African height of the continent were injustices of the three “C’s”: apartheid. The civilisation, film, however, Christianity is set in a and commerce, Nelson Mandela: LSE LIbrary CC post-apartheid and since then South Africa which allows the bus rides or toilets. commerce, if not Christianity, modern Tsotsi the opportunity Throughout the Sixties, has dominated the rich to represent themes that are Nelson Mandela and other countries’ relations with African common to many young people members of the African countries, almost always to the and black young people around NationalCongress, founded detriment of that resource rich the world, but it is, nevertheless after the Boer war and formed continent. a film born of the history of into the ANC in 1923 were Africa and more specifically imprisoned on Apartheid Robben Island and for 27 South Africa. The word “apartheid” is, in years the trade sanctions, For more go to http://news.bbc. fact, pronounced by most sport and music bans and co.uk/1/hi/world/8508592.stm
  6. 6. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 6 ‘Thug’ Stereotypes and poverty are secondary to colour understanding and compassion. and nationality. The principle of Tsotsi is to Tsotsi Moreover Tsotsi the novel, reveal to its audience that no In the opening sequence of was written as a representation thug or tsotsi, is a nameless Tsotsi the audience is presented of an already established human being and Tsotsi’s name with a classic stereotype. The stereotype. The zootsuited thugs is David. scene opens as Tsotsi, flanked that ranged the townships in the It is in the characterisation by three others, marches down 1950s drew their identity and of individuals that, what the street. The close up is on their type from American films. appears to be the stereotypical his face, a low angle to signify The stereotypes in Tsotsi representation, becomes his power. He is clearly in break down further though, a character. It is also in control, he is not, however a so that in the end they are challenging the assumptions tribal stereotype, his clothing no longer stereotypes but that people have about and his look, are those of stories of individuals that stereotypes that more is learned any urban young man, only the film portrays with great about the individuals. the language gives away the location. Tsotsi is every bit the black It’s All in the Name urban stereotype, an angry young man, a thug – a thug by The name Tsotsi means “thug” nature and a thug by name for and in a strange irony it has its that is the meaning of Tsotsi. roots in cinema representations. His very name conjures up In his autobiography The Long a South African stereotype Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela remembers and defines the tsotsis that covers the gangs of the as fedora-wearing gangsters, shanty towns, young men who who imitated the roles of James run feral in the streets of the Cagney and Charles Laughton, in townships and who raid the the fear inducing gangster noirs of more genteel areas of suburbia. the 1930s, 40s and 50s. It is even In addition Tsotsi is a very thought that the word is a version familiar stereotype, despite the of the word “zootsuit” the name fact his home is Soweto, despite for the wide-shouldered double-breasted suits of the American the fact that this is an African gangster. It may also be related to the words “ho tsotsa” which story. This is not the story of means to make sharp, not too distant from our own collocation an African child soldier, this to “look sharp”. Whatever the derivation, the word is not is not the story of a starving only a name for the individual, but in true representational child, this is the story of a thug, style, it defines the individual and symbolises a generation. a thug whose sophistication The universal theme of gangsters and crime, weaves into the and violence could be found specifics, not just of the African continent, but of the South in almost any inner city of African nation and its post-apartheid adjustments, as it struggles any country. Tsotsi, as he is to reconfigure its nation as multi-cultural, multi-coloured and portrayed in the film, could be multi-tribal. as much at home on the streets Many of the names given to the characters also indicate their of Baltimore in The Wire as character and, to some Butcher, Boston, even Soekie and Aap he is in Soweto. The universal hint at their background and thus at their character. themes of crime and youth
  7. 7. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 7 The Gang: Left to right – Aap,Tsotsi, Butcher, Boston Activity Use this chart to define the characters of the standard protagonist and antagonist. Then chart how Tsotsi represents them both. Protagonist Antagonist Tsotsi
  8. 8. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 8 Narrative Linear Narrative man is in trouble, he has a cork significance of that narrative stuck somewhere embarrassing. can be augmented by a basic A western element in the The cork is going to explode understanding that other narrative of Tsotsi is that it is a in twenty-four hours. There is cultures sometimes have a linear narrative. It is a simple only one man in the world that different experience of the story. tale that starts at the beginning can remove that cork, and he Ideas of time and chronology are and ends with the end of the (of course) is in Los Angeles. not always as important as ideas story. The film uses flashbacks The film is the story of how the of morality, fable or ancestry. but they are signified simply, man, the protagonist, journeys In some African narratives the so that there is no confusion to Africa and removes the understanding of the connection of narrative structure, in that cork successfully. It is one of of the physical body to the respect Tsotsi is a western, or the standard plots and once narrative of life is significant. mainstream Hollywood film. students can recognise it there The body is very important in Even in the book by Athol are an number of films, TV African mythology – it is the Fugard, Tsotsi himself, narrates shows even books that adhere combination of memory, which his own life in a linear style. to that principle – the obvious is far greater than individual Tsotsi sees himself as going example being the television recall, and the body, from one point to the next. series 24. it is the combined ‘Tsotsi had always thought memory of about life as a straight line, as the DNA of undeviating as the one he had Northern ancestors. The taken earlier in the evening in Stories body is the following the beggar from the Like the northern only thing that railway terminal, as inflexible lights, a lot of the story as the railway tracks that swept telling we are used to in past him, leaving no choice but western culture, which, to be carried where they went.’ it must be said, has its P.120 roots in the Unities of Time, Place and Action, as posited by The TT Movie Aristotle – who defined a classic There is a trade description of a narrative as one that combines certain kind of linear narrative all these elements to produce a that to spare the blushes of unified narrative, linear in its innocent youth I have renamed content. “Once upon a time” is here. If you do not want to the onset of many a fairy tale, know the original name, skip in the traditions of European the next few sentences. In its narrative. original form, as told to me by a screenwriter it was described The Crime Against it as the “arsehole movie”. It takes the form of a race against the Body time (hence my title TT, or Time While linear stories are Tension movie). The narrative accessible and common suggests that somewhere (as to the European described to me) in Africa, a narrative the
  9. 9. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 9 MEDIA STUDIES: NARRATIVE VIEWING SHEET colonial powers failed to destroy, and even then 11 million How is the text told? were taken to communities elsewhere in the world as slaves. However there remains a sense of brotherhood, at least Whose point of view? in the reference to each other as “brothers”. This sense is in the last scene when the father of the baby (John) calls Tsotsi “brother” it represents what they How is the story structured? share, not what is different. However, the separation of the body from its source and sustenance is a very serious crime and this is Tsotsi’s What devices are used to indicate time, place mood etc? crime – to separate the baby from its mother then, is a very serious thing. Needless to say, it is a very serious thing in any culture, but the significance of In what way is the narrative linear? the stealing of the baby is not just in the breaking of the line, the line of descendants and the story of the family, but in the breaking of the circle, the In what way is the narrative about the body? damaging of the community. Encased in the linear narrative, written and produced by white South Africans is a hint of the In what way is the narrative universally understandable? indigenous black culture’s own hegemony, ideas of the importance of the body, of the community of people that dates back, not just to the birth of self- In what way does the narrative of Tsotsi reflect its knowledge of the young man specific concerns himself, but to his connection with his community and his responsibility to it. How does the film conform or challenge typical mainstream narrative conventions
  10. 10. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 10 Themes D.E.C.E.N.C.Y a mother, but it is only when to tell the parents that the baby he mentions a dog, that Tsotsi is there. At this point the ending There are no prizes for spotting responds and beats him, almost is very different to the one in the the main theme in Tsotsi – literally, to a pulp. This moment, book. The modern retelling deals “decency” is literally spelled out for the audience by Fela, who, in this challenge to decency sets with the modern South Africa, that moment both affirms and Tsotsi on the path that leads the concept of a black middle defies the traditional stereotype him, in the end, to some form class and the gate. The gate that he represents. Fela is the gang of decency. His terrible beating divides the rich from the poor, boss, bigger than Tsotsi, the ends before he has killed Boston which protects and also makes Tsotsi in the shack with baby alpha male, but also aware of and he runs into the night, out vulnerable. The gate is an icon of Tsotsi and his strength. Fela is into the storm across the scrub the modern South Africa, quite the original zoot-suited tsotsi, to another world, which there often it does not work, and what he is a dapper dresser and a too, he causes damage. Tsotsi Tsotsi does is the nightmare of confident man and that is why steals a car, and in it is a baby. every middle class South African. Boston, assumes that he cannot When the gate breaks down he spell. He thinks that, like Tsotsi, The Semiotics of steals the car, the baby and he he is driven to crime by the wounds the mother. The gate circumstances of his life, being Decency only works if the individual is orphaned and uneducated, but At the end of the film, as a safe behind it. In the last scene, Fela is neither. representation of his new-found the gate acts as bars across the The film starts with Boston’s decency, he puts on his white divide, prison bars that Tsotsi challenge to Tsotsi about shirt, gathers up the baby and cannot cross, until the owner, decency, but his provocation takes money to the old beggar who calls him “brother”, in only elicits a violent response. he passes by on his journey to recognition of the history that Boston taunts Tsotsi and asks the house. He hands his stash to they share, opens the gate. There if he has ever been moved by the old fellow, one step along the is one thing that cannot divide anything. Boston lists those way to decency for both of them. them, the colour of their skin. things that might cause a man to Once at the gate he could leave Tsotsi has found decency but has love, a woman maybe, a parent, the baby and run, but he chooses he now found redemption?
  11. 11. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 11 of Blood Diamond (dir. Edward that he has achieved some form Redemption Zwick, 2007) considering his of understanding of right and Redemption “In bringing Tsotsi violent and merciless history? wrong, which again makes him to the screen, our primary There is no easy answer for a candidate for redemption. intention was to make a taut, Tsotsi, as a protagonist, he is not The recognition of his own well-paced, character driven, a good role model. He commits responsibility hints at his psychological thriller. We horrible crimes and seems not readiness for redemption. He also wanted to transport our to regret them. He is a predator refuses to let Miriam take the audience into a world of radical who hunts down the vulnerable baby, even though it might contrasts. Skyscrapers and and the innocent. Tsotsi allows have been safer for her and it shacks, wealth and poverty, the audience no such luxury. would have allowed him to get violent anger and gentle They are invited to share the life away with it. The fact that he compassion – all collide in a film of a protagonist, who, by any recognises his own role in the that is, ultimately, a classic story standards, would usually be an return of the baby, and is willing of redemption.” Gavin Hood antagonist. to risk something of himself to The redemption narrative is a Tsotsi must take the audience do the right thing and not pass standard Hollywood convention. with him on his journey to that responsibility on to Miriam, It is a convenient device for decency via some form of makes him redeemable and even the despatching of sympathetic redemption. In the tradition she relents and recognises the characters who have done evidence of insipient decency. of Hollywood redemption, this terrible things, or who started process does require him to out as evil and gradually, kill someone worse than him, [ Spoiler warning – do through the process of the story, not read on if you do at least to demonstrate that he redeemed themselves. not want to know what does have some redeemable The Hollywood redemption happens in the book ] features. The killing of Butcher narrative, even at its most to save the child’s father fulfils complex still tends to the neat all the elements of parental In fact in the book, Tsotsi solution. The narratives in redemption. The return of the does die in a hopeless attempt World Cinema, independent baby, of course demonstrates to rescue the baby from the film and Tsotsi are not so neat, even if redemption destruction of his is a part of the plot. township home by the Redemption, of course, bulldozers. Bulldozers is a useful device as it sent in, by the police, does allow, if not for a to clear the unsightly happy ending, then for illegal townships from a positive resolution. land the whites want Death redeems almost cleared. However, arbitrarily, the death of the end of the film the violent protagonist, leaves Tsotsi to face redeems his or her the consequences of humanity and solves his actions, an ending the problem of what that Hollywood they might do with the protagonists or rest of their lives. What antagonists rarely for instance would the have to face. Leonardo di Caprio’s character do with the rest of his life at the end Miriam
  12. 12. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 12 Audience Negotiated Reading Diamond (dir. Edward Zwick, to the representation of 2006) finally gets away from the Black Consciousness A negotiated reading is the the representation of history, Movement, that challenged process by which audience and but deals with the darkest the idea that African nations producer negotiated with each secrets of African stereotypes other as to the meaning of the were less “civilised” countries and disruption: the kidnap of text. A memorable moment in with as represented in Cry children and their employment my own childhood involves me Freedom (dir. Richard as child soldiers. This film watching a film called The Lion, seeks to link that condition Attenborough, 1987). Through I was enraputred by the idea of a with some sense of First World these representations of small girl controlling a huge lion responsibility. It uses the issue mutual African conflict in as a pet, the Masai watching the of conflict diamonds, diamonds Hotel Rwanda, with a final film in the front row thought it mined for the rich northern recognition in Blood Diamond, was hilarious. In that case there hemisphere countries, without that the “civilised” white was no negotiation! legislation or regulation, whose north, is no less violent and no The manner in which income is used to buy weapons more civilised than its African audiences mediates the text that continue conflicts, kidnap and responds to it in such away counterpart. All these films and anarchy. that the story either develops have paved the way for Tsotsi, Each of the above films works an independent meaning or a modern story of African, in with an already established idea, the industry itself begins to a sense an ordinary story of assented to by the Hollywood adapts its representation of the influenced culture. The issues teenage crime, to find its place, dominant ideology. represented move through the without cliché’s against the ideas of the noble but doomed backdrop of a long and difficult Cross Continental savage, dominated by the history, that still weighs upon its Negotiation superior technology, through inhabitants. More recently, representations of Africa in Hollywood have tried to deal with the conflicts Audience Positioning that some readings might ACTIVITY consider to be self-inflicted. The terrible genocide in Rwanda, As a simple exercise in understanding audience positioning, get the for example (Hotel Rwanda dir. class to make a five bar gate - they could do this electronically or in the Terry George, 2004). Even so old fashioned way. this representation required the The idea is that they would two columns: Hollywood trappings of named stars to appear in the film, and For Tsotsi Against Tsotsi the story itself, although, again a representation of historical events, seeks to portray only the culmination of the conflict in Everytime they feel sympathetic that’s a bar for him, every time they the terrible events of 1994 and feel opposed to him that’s a bar against him. not really to describe the history See what the results are and get the class to discuss the pivotal points of tribal disruption in that in the film that changed their position on Tsotsi. country. The later film Blood
  13. 13. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 13 Industry Language the powerful patterns; the use of Synergy the red ochre as a tribal colour; Tsotsi is a Foreign Language The use of Kwaito music, the the red earth itself and the deep film that use subtitles although music of South African artist, blue sky. However, in fact in the language it features – Tsotsi- Zola, who also takes a role as the Tsotsi’s town the sky is rarely taal – is a mix of English, gangster Fela – very much the blue, it is framed by the dust Afrikaans and tribal language zoot-suited tsotsi, in Tsotsi. Zola from township and much of and a few words are readily brought to the film the “piece what takes place, takes place at recognisable! It was a risk for of talent” that, at least in South night. the produces to use Tsotsi-taal Africa, would start to open the because it mean using local, film. Zola is the superstar of For more: unknown actors. www.motion.kodak.com/motion/ “Kwaito” the music of the South uploadedFiles/tsotsi.pdf African townships, and as such he is one of South Africa’s most Light famous musicians, his music, The use of 35mm film enhances Location features in most of the film and, the colours to a deep richness. Soweto SOuth WEstern if the audience listens, at the There are stereotypical TOwnship, the film is shot on beginning, one of the songs is assumptions about Africa that location using local actors and Tsotsi Yase Zola and it repeats do associate it with colour. The local language all of which adds his name – Zola, in traditional colourful dyes in the clothes; to the verisilimitude of the piece. rap style.
  14. 14. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 14 Teaching Tsotsi: Generic Scheme of Work Aims: • To establish key concepts in regard to the study of film and moving image • To establish an understanding of the use of representation in moving image • To establish an appropriate lexis to apply to the study and construction of film and moving image • To conduct close analysis of the film for narrative and semiotic construction • To establish an understanding of audience and its relationship to the film in respect of hegemony • To establish understanding of institutional issues connected with industry and production Objectives: • To have a detailed knowledge of the film and its themes • To have improved textual analysis skills and applied them to the text • To have an understanding of issues of audience and institution in respect of the film Tsotsi • To have increased insight into the context and issues of equality and diversity the film represents TOPIC LESSON ACTIVITY 1 Representation · Introduce ideas of Africa · Ask students to posit those ideas - written or in discussion · Use different images of Africa some positive and some Make a stereotype using written negative work, drawing or computer (www. · Discuss their response doppelme.com) - see p.17. · Is it appropriate to refer to Africa as a country or as a con- tinent? · Define and discuss stereotypes · What stereotypes can they think of that relate to repre- sentations of Africa? · What general stereotypes can they describe? · What are the issues with regard to stereotypes? 2 Representation and · View film - be warned - it is violent in places and it doesn’t Response go well for the dog - also there are subtitles Students to use their five bar gate · Students do the fIve bar gate exercise - discuss whether on like and dislike (see p.12 ) and the they like or dislike Tsotsi and why? discussion to write a short analysis of · How does the character of Tsotsi fit with their early ideas why they liked or disliked Tsotsi. about Africans? · How does Tsotsi challenge or conform to those stere- Is he protagonist or antagonist? otypes? · What stereotypes are there in the film? · What stereotypes from other media or film can they iden- tify as similar? 3 Context · This could come earlier - although I tend to let them get to know the film first · Brief history of Apartheid · Issues surrounding Africa · Introduce the book and, briefly Athol Fugard, his involve- Some research on South Africa - a ment in anti-Apartheid major player: Nelson Mandela, Steve · How do they think things have changed? Biko, Donald Woods · What is our controlling ideology on race? · Analyse the scene with the gate - all of modern South Africa is there
  15. 15. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 15 4 Close Analysis · Use the DVD to examine semiotics in detail Semiotics · Many shots in the shack with the baby have film noir style Learn and apply terminology to im- · Denote and connote - again the scene with the gate has ages and sequences many connotations Examine: · The use of location · The use of 35mm film to gain the quality of colour 5 Close Analysis · Get them to track the two different narratives (flashback Narrative and linear) Chart the two narratives · Discuss the cultural influences on the narrative of the body Analyse one or both narratives using · Do students tell their own story through their family? appropriate theory. · What European theories could be applied (Barthes/To- dorov)? 6 Close Analysis Decency Themes Read the section from the book where Tsotsi confronts Choose an ending and analyse why the old beggar - compare that with the film. they might have been used. · What has changed and why? · Is this the moment when Tsotsi starts to regain his de- cency? Redemption · Define the idea discuss other more traditional redemption narratives · Is Tsotsi redeemed? T · Look at the different endings on the DVD and discuss their implications 7 Audience · Passive responses - related to stereotypes · Stereotypes of youth and of Africa · Audience positioning with regard to Tsotsi Students to discuss how their at- · Response of a South African audience compared to the titudes as an audience might have response of aHollywood audience changed or been affected by the film. · Negotiated reading - how is Tsotsi both a universal story and a local story? 8 Industry Synergy · Zola as Fela - the use of synergy and local music Do some research on other films · Play some of the music - show the music video that use music video as part of their marketing · Casting issues - the use of local actors speaking local language · Subtitles - mention Heroes when they complain - many- more texts use subtitles now 9 Equality and Diversity · The whole film allows discussion of various aspects of equality and diversity with reference both to race and wealth and poverty · There is a documentary on the DVD about two boys who live in the Johannesburg townships that is well worth a look Resources: DVD Tsotsi Novel Tsotsi by Athol Fugard (Canon Gate) Studying Tsotsi by Judith Gunn (Auteur)
  17. 17. TEACHING TSOTSI / JUDITH GUNN / BFI JULY 2010 17 Background Exercise: Stereotypes Resources The guys below are made by me on a site called www.Tsotsi.com DoppelMe [ www.doppelme.com ]. One is meant to www.Flickr.com (CC) be representative of me and the other some kind of www.bbc.co.uk www.doppelme.com stereotype. A lesson I have taught to emphasise the www.motion.kodak.com/ process of stereotyping, is to get the class to create one. motion/uploadedFiles/tsotsi.pdf Creating a stereotype through avatar software can be www.xmind.net (Free mind fun, if a little controversial occasionally! They can do it mapping software) the old fashioned way, by sketching out a stereotype on pen and paper, or by listing attributes; or they can work in groups and draw one using an interactive whiteboard Photo credits if you have one, or you can head to Doppelme, or All pictures from Tsotsi and the another avatar creator and set it as homework, or an IT production are from the Tsotsi task or do I together in class. Whatever way you choose website www.tsotsi.com and to do it, it very quickly demonstrates the shorthand of are credited as stills available for stereotypes and the pitfalls that can apply. publication. And of course.. For more information Equality and Diversity and resources go to: http://www.judithgunn.com One of the attractions of Tsotsi – is the fact that it is classified a 15 and can offer younger students an insight to other ways of life, both different and familiar. Issues of race disappear in the urban landscape where poverty and self-respect are an issue for everyone, universally. The film itself is violent and can be disturbing – beware of the death of the dog for younger viewers. However for preparation, enrichment or even to show younger pupils aspects of South African society the documentary on the two lads on the DVD is of great benefit and can be used to support many discussions related to equality and diversity.