The Sky in Her Eyes (2002) put Vuleka Productions on the map internationally when this poetic short film won the Djibril Diop Mambety Prize for Best African Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. Part of the prestigious international fest’s Critics Choice Week, the award was sponsored by Kodak, ARTE-France, Cinecam, Racines and Titra Films. Africa’s top film distributor, Ster-Kinekor, was so impressed with The Sky in Her Eyes and the award it won at Cannes that it was screened as a short before the Oscar-nominated New Zealand feature film Whale Rider while on circuit in South Africa.
Directed by Madoda Ncayiyana and Ouida Smit and produced by Julie Frederikse as part of the Steps for the Future series, The Sky in Her Eyes launched Ncayiyana’s film career. He went on to direct Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), which won Best Feature Film at the Cannes Pan-African Film Festival in 2009, as well as Best Feature Film awards in Italy, Spain, India, Zanzibar, UK and at the African Movie Academy Awards.
Vuleka cast children to act in The Sky in Her Eyes who had never acted before and Ncayiyana conducted an even wider casting outreach to find new talent for Izulu Lami, discovering child actors who won international awards for their performances, competing against adult actors. Now Ncayiyana is developing his sophomore film, Hhola Hhola, and preparing to direct it, and in the way that the feature film Izulu Lami was inspired by the short film The Sky in her Eyes, the award-winning co-star of Izulu Lami, Tshepang Mohlomi, will go on to star in Hhola Hhola.
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