The Swenkas (Review)

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This is the story of The Swenkas, a small group of working Zulu men in post-apartheid South Africa. Men who every Saturday night leave their grimy overalls behind and wear their best Carducci or Pierre Cardin suits to impress the weekly-selected judge. These men are called the Swenkas, and they have organised this fashion show for so many years that no one remembers exactly when – or even why – it all began.

Normally, the prize for best suit and style of the night is money, but on special occasions like Christmas the winner walks home with a living goat or even a cow on a leash. And this story starts at Christmas time. It follows the youngest Swenka, Sabelo (now 31) in the most turbulent time of his life. He has to bury his father just a week before Christmas – and only a week before his own wedding. But not only has Sabelo lost a father. His father was also leader of the Swenkas, and now Sabelo and his fellow Swenkas find themselves in a state of incertitude. Will Sabelo give up swanking? Will the group find a new leader? Will the art of swanking go on?

The Swenkas

Working men during the day. Dressed like kings Saturday night.

Here is a tenderly-told tale about the importance of preserving cultural traditions, and the role of fathers in passing on knowledge to their sons. Beautifully filmed and acted, the film has a simple elegance that seems to weld its various acts into a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. The scenes between ‘fathers’ and ‘sons’ are particularly pertinent and heart wrenching, while the rest is not without the gentle punch of humour. Watch it, and you might just weep.

The Swenkas is the second part of the trilogy Faith, Hope & Love, preceded by the multiple award-winning, Jerusalem My Love. The Swenkas took the viewers award at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam.

8 thoughts on “The Swenkas (Review)”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Hi I was watching the film and really enjoying it but it stopped at 23 mins and jumped back to the start, not sure if it is a problem at my end or yours ?

    1. Jack Dee says:

      Yes, there does appear to be a problem with the video. Our sincere apologies. We’re looking into it. Should be back up within 24 hours. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Tyson F. Gautreaux says:

    What a wonderful blog! Please continue this great work I will be sure to check back regularly…

  3. Andrew A. Sailer says:

    I simply wanted to add a comment here to say thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming therefore I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and carry on You’ll defintely reach your goals! have a great day!

  4. annie5874 says:

    Thanks for posting this, I loved this film.

  5. SEO Updates says:

    Great piece, still looking forward to reading more.


  6. DeathToTheMovies says:

    I love this film, do you know where I can purchase the full version?

  7. neuerVersuch1 says:

    look at ther you will find the full movie.
    but it is without english undertitles

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