My Interview with Five Tiger Director Nomawonga Khumalo on the Thoughts and Talks Podcast

“Women hold the knife on the sharp side!” In this episode of Thoughts and Talks, I spoke with “Five Tiger” Writer and Director, Nomawonga Khumalo, about her film and its Black feminist themes which highlight the culture of silence, religious exploitation, sex work, femicide, and many other poignant topics.

Nomawonga Khumalo, director of Five Tiger, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Sinazo Mona.

FIVE TIGER SYNOPSIS:

A God-fearing woman in present-day South Africa finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter. NOMAWONGA KHUMALO is a writer/director from Johannesburg, South Africa. Five Tiger is her narrative film debut. Her feature film, The Bursary, will head into production in the second half of 2021.

To find out when you will be able to see this film in your area, visit its page on IMDB.

Five Tiger [2020] Trailer

Why did you choose to focus on the role of religion in this context?


Religion (and its many forms and origins) is an intrinsic part of who we are as Africans and has governed our senses due to mass indoctrination over the years. The morphing of religion and African culture resulted in religion having roots impossible to sever without hacking those of Africanism. It has become intertwined with our identity and before we can begin to undo it, we must understand it from as many angles as possible.

I’m happy to break from the “White man and the Bible” perspective of Christianity, even at times advocating for the role it plays in tranquilizing harsh realities, if it brings the audience closer to understanding what hold it has over people. In a world where archetypes represent thousands, and one picture speaks for twenty-four others, it’s important to understand religion from the perspective of one. Without understanding the balance between religion and identity, race & culture, one is only looking at half the picture.

Ayanda Seoka appears in Five Tiger by Nomawonga Khumalo, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rick Joaquim.

What were some of the constraints making this film?


Budget is something you can never have enough of and was certainly a limiting factor but we were fortunate enough to have people give their time and efforts freely to realizing this dream.

The pandemic was also piqued when we were going into post-production. So, not only is this my debut film but now there is also a new, vastly different way of interacting in this space, a protocol I wasn’t quite privy to yet. That was hard.

Ayanda Seoka appears in Five Tiger by Nomawonga Khumalo, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rick Joaquim.

Are you holding the knife on the sharp side? 

This movie brings to mind questions about womanhood, the roles women play in their societies and households, and the burdens that go along with those roles. If you’re reading this and you’re a woman, ask yourself are you being honest with yourself and your loved ones about who you are, how you feel, and what you need. Are there any crutches that you’re holding on to that might be doing you harm?

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