Boy Called Twist

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Writer/director Tim Greene takes Charles Dickens' classic novel of an orphan in Victorian England and transports it to present-day Cape Town, South Africa, for his feature debut, Boy Called Twist. Newcomer Jarrid Geduld stars as the boy, who is sent to an orphanage when his mother dies shortly after giving birth to him. He's given his new name by Mrs. Corlet (Terry Norton), an orphanage director with a literary bent. Years later, with the orphanage in dire financial straits, Corlet sells a group of the older orphans to Bedel (Goliath Davids), who brings them to a farm where they are fed little and worked mercilessly. When Twist dares to demand more food, Bedel beats him, then brings him to a family-run funeral home, where he starts work as a gravedigger. He does well there, until his fellow workers grow jealous of him and start trouble. Faced with returning to the farm, Twist chooses to run away. At a highway rest stop, he's found by Dodger (Tertius Swanepoel), who brings him to the vicious Bill Sykes (Bart Fouche) and his pretty girlfriend, Nancy (Kim Engelbrecht). They take Twist to Cape Town, where he falls in with Fagin (Leslie Fong) and his crew of young scam artists, including Charley Bates (Ndyebo Mgaga). Twist is arrested for robbing an old man, but rather than press charges, Ebrahim (Bill Curry), a wealthy Muslim, takes Twist in and shows him a new way of life. Greene drew a lot of attention when he raised the production cost of the film by getting a thousand people to donate one thousand rands apiece. Greene attended the film's U.S. premiere at the 2005 New York African Diaspora Film Festival.

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