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'Tsotsi' Tells a Tale of New Africa on Film

A hardened young South African gang leader steals a woman's car -– then finds out her baby is in the back seat. So starts the South African film Tsotsi, which is up for an Academy Award for best foreign film.

The story exposes parallels between the lost child and Tsotsi, the lead character whose name is Afrikaans for "gangster." Forced to repress memories of his own childhood -- along with his name -- Tsotsi has become a feared man in the Soweto region of Johannesburg. But as Tsotsi is prompted to confront his own past, a new sense of responsibility also comes into play.

Based on the novel by Athol Fugard, the film was directed by Gavin Hood; it stars first-time actor Presley Chweneyagae. The camera follows Tsotsi through Soweto's tumultuous society, with the pounding sounds of hip-hop-derived Kwaito music as a backdrop.

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