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Five Tiger

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Five Tiger, a short film currently showing on Showmax, is only 10 minutes long, but it will leave a lasting impression on audiences. 

It’s the story of a young woman struggling to support her sickly husband and child. She enters into a sexual transactional relationship with her church leader to make ends meet. “Five Tiger” refers to the R50 note handed to her by this church leader in the heart-wrenching opening scene. 

The film explores themes of religion and patriarchy, and how these two things can intersect to create toxic, exploitative power structures.

The most heart-breaking aspect of Five Tiger is that it is set in modern-day South Africa, and it feels uncomfortably realistic. South African audiences will know that this story is anything but far-fetched; the storyline delivers a punch to the gut.

But Five Tiger’s success is not necessarily in its script. Rather, it is in the storytelling. From stunning cinematography to the contemplative nature of the scenes, Five Tiger is beautifully shot. Writer and director Nomawonga Khumalo avoids clichés, and this is not just another story about poverty — it is deeply personal. Khumalo places beautiful rural vistas and grinding poverty together, and achieves a great deal in just 10 minutes. 

Five Tiger has already caught the eye of international audiences, and it was selected for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. 

Unfortunately, the story is too complex for the “short” genre, and it cries out for a longer, feature-film version. Apparently, this is in the works — Five Tiger was actually a proof concept for a longer film called The Bursary, which is currently in production. It will certainly add legs to an already promising story, which forces society to stare poverty and exploitation in the face, and to grapple with it. — Sarah Evans

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