Themba – A Boy Called Hope

Themba – Das Spiel seines Lebens

Themba – A Boy Called Hope

Stefanie Sycholt

Film Education

The eleven-years-old Themba lives with his mother Mandisa and his younger sister Nomtha in dire poverty in a small Eastern Cape village. Mad about football, he and his best friend Sipho take every opportunity to try and kick the ball around like stars such as Zidane, Rolando and, from South Africa, Andile Khum. At a youth tournament, John Jacobs, the Director of the All Star Academy, has his attention drawn to the talented Themba – an encounter which is to ensure his survival later on. For when his mother loses her job and has to move to Cape Town to earn
money, the kids are left exposed to the whims of Luthando, their mohter‘s unpredictable lover. Themba prevents him from assaulting Nomtha but ends up a victim of rape himself. He and Nomtha escape to their mother, only to realise that she is suffering from AIDS. Themba now manages to feed the family thanks to his football skills and Mr Jacobs‘s contacts. As a young player selected to play for bafana bafana, the South African football team, he makes a heart-wrenching confession at his first press conference: he too has got AIDS, passed on by Luthando. In South Africa, the country with the highest rate of AIDS infection anywhere in the world, this can signal the end of all dreams.
Filmed on location against the stunning South African landscape, Themba is a family drama which also shows that, even in seemingly hopeless situations, there can be the possibility of a way out, of  a new departure. The screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by Lutz van Dijk.

Awards for ›Themba – Das Spiel seines Lebens‹
UNICEF-Kinderrechtspreis und Golden Dhow – Best Feature Film, 13. Zanzibar International Film Festival 2010 | Bernhard Wicki Preis und DGB Filmpreis, 21. Filmfest Emden 2010

Director / Script

Stefanie Sycholt


Egon Werdin


Hansjörg Weißbrich


Simphiwe Dana, Annette Focks


Nat »Junior« Singo, Emmanuel Soqinase, Anisa Mhlungula, Anelisa Phewa, Jens Lehmann und andere


Michael und Ica Souvignier, Josef Steinberger, Brigid Olën


alpha medienkontor GmbH

Stefanie Sycholt

Stefanie Sycholt, born 1963 in Pretoria, South Africa, studied political science, English (under Nobel Prize Laureate J. M. Coetzee) and film theory at the universities of Natal and Cape Town. She was an active member of the anti-apartheid student movement and worked as media officer for the National Union of South African Students. In 1990, after filming Nelson Mandela‘s Welcome Home Rally in Durban, she went to Munich to study at the University of Television & Film there. Ms Sycholt is married to an Argentinean film-maker and has one son. She divides her time between working in Germany, South Africa and Argentina.

Films by Stefanie Sycholt
Gwendolyn (TV) 2007 | Malunde 2001 | MBUBE – Die Nacht der Löwen 1998