Madoda Ncayiyana

Madoda Ncayiyana is developing his second feature film, Hhola Hhola, following his award-winning debut feature, Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky). He was selected for a prestigious director’s residency for Produire au Sud (Producing with the South) Script Studio 2013, part of the 3Continents Film Festival in Nantes, France.

International awards for Ncayiyana’s first feature, Izulu Lami include Best Feature Film prizes at the Cannes Pan-African Film Festival, India’s Kerala International Film Festival and the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and Audience Awards for Best Film at the African Film Festivals of Verona, Italy and Tarifa, Spain. In its development phase Izulu Lami was selected for Produire au Sud in Nantes. Ncayiyana’s new film, Hhola Hhola, will star Tshepang Mohlomi, the child actor discovered in casting for Izulu Lami. This young actor won a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for Best Supporting Actor, competing against adult actors, as well as an African Movie Academy Award for his role in Izulu Lami.

Ncayiyana co-wrote and directed The Sky in Her Eyes, which won the Djibril Diop Mambety Award for Best African Short Film at the Cannes International Film Festival, part of Cannes Critics Choice Week. For this film he also cast children who had never acted before and not even been inside a cinema.

Ncayiyana is a founding director of Vuleka Productions and has directed television drama and children’s programming, as well as theatre and TV and radio commercials. His direction of the radio component of the first Takalani Sesame series won Africa’s top radio award (URTNA), an international co-production with the internationally renowned US children’s television production company, Sesame Workshop.

Ncayiyana’s direction of documentaries is strongly story-driven and he drew on his own family’s experience of being forcibly removed from their home in Cato Manor during the apartheid era in directing Life Went On, a documentary for SABC-1, part of the TRC From Below series on South Africa’s historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also narrated a five-part documentary series for Durban’s local history museum, Cato Manor: Contested Past, Pivotal Future.

Ncayiyana’s extensive background in drama began with his work in theatre, initially as an actor, then as a director and playwright. He was a co-founder of Theatre for Africa with Nicholas Ellenbogen and Ellis Pearson, one of the earliest projects to use drama to highlight issues around environment and conservation of African wildlife. Its international and national awards include dramas on the plight of the threatened rhino, “Horn of Sorrow”, and “The Eagle”, which both won the Edinburgh Festival’s prestigious Scotsman Award. He also co-founded the community theatre group, Maningi Theatre, and wrote and directed plays in Durban’s townships.

In mentoring emerging talent he helped shape the early careers of top South African director and actor James Ngcobo, who now heads Johannesburg’s Market Theatre, and Bheki Mkhwane, who went on to star in a top South African telenovela.

Ncayiyana was the first black actor-director hired to work full-time for a South African performing arts council, the Natal Performing Arts Council. A popular play he created and directed for NAPAC, “The Stamping Is Getting Closer”, attracted intervention by the apartheid regime’s Special Branch.

His film career was launched with his co-starring role as the loveable Madluphuthu character in the South African feature, The Angel, the Bicycle and the Chinaman’s Finger.  He is also a noted voice artist for radio and television commercials, has narrated many documentaries and video programs, and co-hosted a radio talk show on the national broadcaster, SAfm.

Ncayiyana has served as a judge on juries for the Durban International Film Festival, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Envirovision and Amstel theatre awards. He was invited to make a presentation on children and media at the World Summit on Children in Media and the Entertainment, Education. He is co-author of Careers in Media (Heinemann).

A lifelong resident of Durban’s KwaMashu township, he was awarded the Mayor’s Achievement Award for his work in South African and international film, TV and theatre, and his contribution to Durban’s cultural scene.