City Press review
Director: Akin Omotoso
Starring: Sibusiso Msimang, Sihle Xaba, Zimkhitha Nyoka, Warren Masemola
Akin Omotoso’s award-winning Vaya is possibly one of the most enthralling films I’ve seen. It’s a tale of the naivety of those who move to Johannesburg with hopes and dreams of acquiring wealth. It’s about the torture of being a dreamer, about romanticising a life that could possibly be if you weather the storm.
The film follows three characters – Nkulu, Nhlanhla and Zanele – who arrive by train at Joburg’s Park Station, each on a mission of their own.
Nkulu, played by Sibusiso Msimang in his debut film role, is sent by his mother to find the remains of his late father, a mine worker who lived in the city, and bring them home for burial. He’s sent from pillar to post and discovers aspects of his father’s life he knew nothing of.
Enthusiastic, chatty and at times endearing but equally annoying, Nhlanhla, played by Sihle Xaba, has his eyes wide open with excitement for his new life of glory in the City of Gold. On his way to meet his cousin, who has promised to help him realise his dreams of wealth, Nhlanhla is smacked with the realities that this is a dog eat dog hell hole.
Zimkhitha Nyoka’s character, Zanele, is chaperoning a young girl en route to being reunited with her mother, a singer managing her lover’s tavern. With her own dreams of fame and fortune, Zanele believes the change she needs in her life lies in Joburg. While coming across as gentle and frightened, Zanele can fend for herself. She’s charming and resilient and Nyoka’s depiction earned her an Africa Movie Academy Awards nomination for best actress in a leading role.
As outstanding as ever, Warren Masemola’s Xolani makes his appearance towards the end. His role as the local gangster will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. He’s terrifically terrifying.
The story line of Vaya is packed, but Omotoso manages to make every minute as thrilling as the next. Each actor gets ample time to shine – and they all do. This one can happily be watched again once it makes its way to TV screens, but for now you don’t want to miss this enticing film on the silver screen.