AFDA alumni in key roles on award-winning film ‘Rise: The Siya Kolisi story’

Oct 27, 2023 | Alumni, Awards, News

After winning the Audience Choice Award at the International Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, the documentary film, ‘Rise: The Siya Kolisi story’, co-produced by AFDA alumnus Adam Thal has won the Peace and Sport documentary prize at the Sportel Awards in Monaco.

A host of AFDA alumni worked on the documentary. Ebenhaezer Smal’s name comes up twice on the film credits list for Original Music and Editing while James Adey, Willie Nel and Trevor Calverey’s names come up on the credits list for Cinematography.

The Peace and Sport documentary prize at the Sportel Awards recognises the achievements of the inspirational documentary, which unpacks the extraordinary journey of Siya Kolisi, a symbol of hope, resilience, and unity.

‘Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story’, written and directed by Tebogo Malope, sheds light on the story of South Africa’s first black African rugby captain, who against all odds led the Sprinboks and in turn united a country.

In the documentary Siya Kolisi vulnerably reflects on the various challenges he has tackled on his journey from humble beginnings to rugby stardom, while proceeds from ‘Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story’ are channeled back to under-resourced communities through the Kolisi Foundation, a charity founded by Siya and his wife Rachel. The Foundation has a vision to change the narratives of inequality in the areas of food insecurity, gender-based violence, and sports and education.

Siya Kolisi, said the Peace and Sport award served as another proud accolade for his documentary. “I wanted to authentically show viewers what the township looks like and how more people need to come and invest in these areas. For me, some of my best memories are from the township, and it’s the people in my community who motivate me every day.

“I now have the platform to hopefully be able to change the stories of those kids growing up in similar circumstances, but at the same time the biggest thing for me is to change the mindset while they’re still living in tough conditions.”

This latest announcement was welcomed by Mahlatse Mashua, who is a board member of The Kolisi Foundation, and the South African MD for Roc Nation Sports International, the renowned agency that represents the Bok captain.

“Rise is an inspiring story, yet it doesn’t stand as a monument, but rather a signpost. It beckons each of us, challenging our perspectives and urging us to play our part. In a short but vivid way, it reveals the true face of our unsavoury social narratives, while simultaneously highlighting the power of community in paving pathways to success for individuals like Siya.

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