I AM THALENTE
Thalente Biyela is about to turn 18 and needs to decide what to be when he ‘grows up’. Homeless since age nine, he is illiterate his opportunities are limited. At age eight, his first skateboard becomes his escape from turmoil at home, giving him a way to express himself, and access to a community of friends who become family. Skateboarding soon became the driving force in his life, providing him sanctity as he lived on the streets of Durban. An internet video of Thalente skating reaches pro-skater Kenny Anderson who offers to take him under his wing if he makes it to America. Thalente puts his heart and soul to the test to rise above circumstance and shape his future.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Filmmaker Natalie Johns was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in South Africa and established her career in London where she specialized in live entertainment television and documentary film. Johns found her passion for filmmaking through a love of music; songs put into words what Johns could not. Growing up in South Africa she was deeply affected by the disparity in the world around her. She went to film school with the desire to create images for music but was drawn to documentary by stories of journalists who were instrumental in ending the war in Vietnam and Apartheid in South Africa. She began her career capturing the live experience of music and this evolved into the desire to create experiences and connect story to audiences, raise awareness or simply help people to better understand one another. Creating moving portraits of the people she works with, Johns cares about the ‘experience’ and seeks out the humanity in every story.
Director / Screenwriter: Natalie Johns
Producers: Colin Kennedy, Oualid Mouaness, Selema “Sal” Masekela, Jason Bergh, Julia Lebedev
Cinematographers: Natalie Johns, Lawrence McCallum, Brett Bert Shaw, Jimmy Reynolds
Principal Cast: Thalente Biyela, Tony Hawk, Kenny Anderson, Guy Mariano, Lance Mountain
Documentary, USA, 80 minutes, Color, 2015, English