Photo: Phumi Morare

South African Director Phumi Morare on 'The Shawshank Redemption,' Miriam Makeba & Winning a Student Oscar

Filmmaker Phumi Morare's Lakutshon' Ilanga (When The Sun Sets), filmed in Soweto, won gold at this year's Student Academy Awards.

Phumi Morare is proof it's never too late to switch careers and give your dreams a solid chance at coming true. After spending the first part of her working life in finance, the 34-year-old South African opted to jump back into studying and pursue her goal of becoming a director. Now, since scooping the Student Academy Award for her short narrative film, Lakutshon' Ilanga, she's set to take her talents to new heights. "It's been such an incredible journey and such a wild ride," Morare says, over Zoom from Pasadena, the quaint, tree-lined area north east of LA where she currently lives.

Lakutshon' Ilanga, which was filmed on location in Soweto, tells the story of a young Black nurse living in 1985 apartheid South Africa who goes looking for her activist brother. It was made as Morare's thesis for her MFA in film directing at Chapman University, in 2019, along with Christine Cho as producer. Before winning the gold medal for narrative short film at the Student Academy Awards, Lakutshon' Ilanga, which takes its name from the Miriam Makeba song, already scored a BAFTA student nomination, and has been screened at some of the world's most prestigious film festivals, from Telluride to the Pan African Film Festival.

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