Oscars: South Africa Selects 'Knuckle City' for International Feature Film Category

Knuckle City - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka's boxing drama is currently screening in Toronto.

South Africa has selected Jahmil X.T. Qubeka's Knuckle City as its submission for the international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.

The film, which won a best actor prize for star Bongile Mantsai at South Africa's Durban Film Festival, is currently playing in Toronto's Contemporary World Cinema section.

The story follows an aging professional boxer and his career-criminal brother who is about to be released from prison. The two are sons of a legendary fighter-turned-gangster who have followed in their father's footsteps in different ways. They team up to create one last shot at fame but encounter more than they bargained for.

"The film is as hard-hitting as its title suggests. It's quintessentially South African but also a very universal tale and touches on so many themes making it dark and relatable all at once,” said National Film and Video Foundation CEO Makhosazana Khanyile announcing the selection.

The film is situated in Qubecka's birthplace, Mdantsane, which is famous for turning out boxing champions. He examines the toxic masculinity of fighting and underbelly of the boxing world while shining a light on the country's systemic poverty and legacy of apartheid.

Qubecka's Sew the Winter to My Skin was South Africa's 2018 Oscars submission, but the film was not nominated.

South Africa was nominated with Darrell Roodt's Zulu in 2004, and Gavin Hood's Tsotsi won the best foreign-language Oscar in 2005.