Reviews & Awards for Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky)

“South Africa’s answer to Slumdog Millionaire has made stars of poor children.
– David Smith, Guardian, UK

“This Durban-grown film has caused a stir wherever it has been shown around the world.”
Sunday Independent (Johannesburg)

“  An extraordinary work of great power… a vision of the lives of children that I cannot recall seeing in any other South African-made film.  ”                               –  Barry Ronge, Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

“The acting is superb…  a real cinematic gem.” The Witness (Pietermaritzburg)

“  Ticks all my boxes for a great film: it made me laugh, it made me cry, and I fell in love with the male lead, Chii-Bite (Tshepang Mohlomi).  ”                                      –   Colette Francis, SA Civil Society News


Watch the Trailer:


The feature film, Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), was directed by Madoda Ncayiyana, co-founder of Durban’s Vuleka Productions and a film and television director with a background in theatre, including awards at the Edinburgh and Grahamstown Arts Festivals. The film was co-produced by Julie Frederikse of Vuleka Productions with Jeremy Nathan of Johannesburg’s Dv8 and written by Frederikse and Ncayiyana. Dialogue is in Zulu and English, with English subtitles.

Izulu Lami was inspired by Vuleka’s short film, The Sky in Her Eyes, the only South African film to win an official award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Djibril Diop Mambety Prize for Best African Short Film. Izulu Lami features a cast of young children who had never acted until they were discovered in the townships and informal settlements of Durban and rural KwaZulu-Natal.  The feature film was supported by Africa’s top film distributor, Ster-Kinekor, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), French film fund Fonds Images Afrique, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and eThekwini Municipality. In its development phase it was selected for Produire au Sud, part of the 3continents Film Festival in Nantes, France.



Dikalo Award for Best Feature Film, Cannes Pan-African International Film Festival; Best Debut Film, International Film Festival of Kerala, India; Audience Award for Best Film, Verona International African Film Festival, Italy; Audience Award for Best Film, Best Actress prize, Tarifa African Film Festival, Spain; Best African Language Film and Best Child Actors, African Movie Academy Awards; Best Feature Film, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Drama Award, One World Media Awards, UK


Izulu Lami was praised as an “extraordinary work of great power” by top South African film critic Barry Ronge. Award-winning author Don Mattera, on the NFVF blog, called it “the kind of family movie you’ll want your kids to see, that gives one confidence for the future of film production in South Africa”. David Smith of the UK Guardian marveled that the film’s actors “were selected after auditions of 3,000 children from KwaZulu-Natal province, many of whom had never been inside a cinema before”. At the Africa-In-Motion Film Festival in Edinburgh critic Iman Qureshi raved: “I cannot remember the last time I was so emotionally invested in a film.” “Hands down one of the very best and most heartfelt local films that I have ever seen, see it at all costs, it is a precious local jewel,” was the view of SABC radio station Radio Sonder Grense. The Eastern Province Herald wrote: For an all new cast – except for one or two familiar faces – Madoda Ncayiyana has created a masterpiece.” Johannesburg’s City Press dubbed it “an innocent story of hope, ethics, beliefs and human bonds.” The mass appeal of Vuleka’s first film is seen in the awareness and popularity of the film’s cheeky street kid character, “Chilli-Bite” and the many University of KwaZulu Natal students who have chosen to study Izulu Lami for their Honours and Masters theses.


The Making of Izulu Lami/My Secret Sky