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Photo still courtesy of Yellowbone Entertainment.

The Trailer for Jahmil X.T. Qubeka's New Film 'Knuckle City' Is a Must-Watch

"South Africa deserves a boxing film."

South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka has released the trailer for his fourth feature film, Knuckle City.

Before we get into the details, watch the chilling and riveting trailer below.


In Knuckle City, Qubeka explores the psychology of a fighter from South Africa's Mdantansane—a township with the legacy of producing boxing world champions—as the writer and director. Spoken in isiXhosa, the film also digs deep into the notions of inherited toxic masculinity and the intense underbelly of the fighting world.

Take a look at the synopsis from award-winning production house Yellowbone Entertainment below:

A slice of street life in South Africa's Mdantsane township, known as the boxing mecca ofSouth Africa, Knuckle City follows the journey of Dudu Nyakama (Bongile Mantsai), a down and out aging boxer as he struggles to attain the one fight that he believes will uplift his fractured family. Contending that the underbelly of the boxing world is rife with criminality, Dudu unwittingly enlists the help of his reckless but resourceful, gangster brother who's coming out of jail. Haunted by the ghost of their father, Dudu soon finds that the fight at home is far more challenging than any opponent he can possibly face in the ring.

Qubeka explains in his director's statement that this is his first film set in the area that raised him. Knuckle City is not only his ode to his formative years, but was also inspired by the fighting/crime films including Raging Bull, Fighter, Rocky and Mean Streets—all of which chronicle the coming-of-age journey to manhood. It's his effort to give South Africa its well-deserved boxing film.

BTS image courtesy of Yellowbone Entertainment.

BTS image courtesy of Yellowbone Entertainment.

"Growing up in the township of Mdantsane in the 80s and 90s was an experience that has shaped the entirety of my life," he says. "The energy of the landscape and the visceral fight for survival that is palpable on the streets has inspired in me a deep yearning to chronicle the lives of its inhabitants through cinema."

He continues:

"It is my intention to capture the essence of life in Mdantsane and the restless pursuit of being a champion within a society that often dictates you are a failure. I am determined with this film to give audiences a glimpse into a world rarely seen, and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted individuals inhabiting our land."

Knuckle City is presented by Mzansi Magic and Yellowbone Entertainment; helmed by Layla Swart as its producer and editor. Stay tuned for the film's release date.

Revisit our 2018 interview with Qubeka, where he speaks on his experience telling the story of South Africa's legendary outlaw, John Kepe, here.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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