‘Knuckle City’ a knockout in cinemas

LOCAL STARS: Celebrating the release of ‘Knuckle City’at Hemingways are, from left, Roberta Sotyese, Siv Ngesi, Thembekile Komani, Rolaine Mkruquli, Mandla Mkruquli and Faniswa Yisa. Picture: AMANDA NANO

Amid much excitement, locally filmed Knuckle City has finally premiered in cinemas countrywide.

To celebrate the occasion, some of the cast and crew visited Hemingways on Tuesday, where director Jahmil XT Qubeka and cast members Siv Ngesi, Thembekile Komani and Faniswa Yisa spent the evening interacting with fans.

Qubeka said there had been much enthusiasm shown over the film so far.

“It’s great to see a film culture happening and to see the audience interacting. “I can see the strides in investment in films, especially where we came from,” he said.

The film gives audiences an intimate glimpse into Mdantsane, popularly known as the ‘Boxing Mecca’ of SA, and follows the journey of Dudu Nyakama (played by Bongile Mantsai), an ageing boxer struggling to attain one fight that he believes will uplift his family.

Qubeka envisioned bringing the essence of Mdantsane’s streets alive in the film.

“Film is wonderful by having the ability to bring places alive, understanding our culture, discussions of art and how all these reflect in society,” Qubeka said.

Thembekile Komani, who plays the lead character’s gangster brother, said his character was created on set.

“I like that he’s completely different from me, and despite some challenges, the director helped me to bring the character to life and gave me freedom to play with the character,” Komani said.

Komani, who grew up in Cape Town, described himself as someone who took care of his family – the only similarity he had with the character he portrayed, he said.

Faniswa Yisa who plays the role of Mother Hen, the lead character’s mother, said she had channeled a lot of the late Nomhle Nkoyeni into her role.

“The role was not simple and a challenge in the beginning. “Jahmil [Qubeka] draws a lot from Mdantsane so one needs to understand the nuances and environment of the place.

“It was life imitating art and art imitating life,” Yisa said.

Both Komani and Yisa will feature in Qubeka’s new series, which is set to come out soon.

Fans entered into a lucky draw at Hemingways, which saw Roberta Sotyese and Rolaine Mkruquli win a pair of boxing gloves autographed by Quebeka.

Knuckle City opened the Durban International Film Festival in 2019, where Bongile Mantsai won Best Actor for his portrayal of Dudu.

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