REVIEW: Five Tiger (Short film)

REVIEW: Five Tiger (Short film)

Review written by Tiisetso Dladla

Five Tiger’, a South African slang term used to identify the fifty-rand note, premiered during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The cleverly titled short film helmed by South African filmmaker Nomawonga Khumalo, tells the story of Fiona (Ayanda Seoka), a god-fearing woman who, in an effort to support her family, finds herself in a transactional relationship. The director’s deft but gentle approach reveals the costliness of attaining the note and the fruitless, unjust ways it is consumed.

Khumalo’s narratively efficient script explores the destructive roles that capitalism and religion play in the life of the female protagonist and her efforts to survive the fallout. The story attempts to balance the themes of poverty and despair versus hope and resilience but the latter is in short supply. A single frame depicts both the cinematic movement of wind blowing through the luscious cane fields and the sound of Fiona’s cries masked by her blade hacking over the crop. Ayanda Seoka’s internal and layered performance carries the film’s emotional arch masterfully.

Cinematographer Rick Joaquim’s verité approach to the lighting design, elevates the poetry of the film. Nomawonga’s measured, sure approach to the story delivers a profundity that does not judge its characters, and allows its audience the room to fully experience its symbolism. One cannot help but to wish for the day that stories like these are less dominant in the telling of the dynamic and complex lives of Black South African women. But this one, told with empathy and sensitivity, reveals truths that require our attention.
Facebooktwittermail