Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, May 13: I AM THALENTE
Natalie Johns’ portrait of a homeless street kid turned skateboarder debuted at Los Angeles last year, where it won an audience award. Other fest berths have included Bahamas, TIFF Next Wave, and Portland. The film now comes to VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Sony Playstation, Xbox, and various cable VOD providers.
Thalente Biyela escaped an abusive home to live on the streets of Durban, South Africa as a young boy. Seeking refuge from the stark realities of his situation, he spent time in skateparks, finding escape through skateboarding. Finding support there, Thalente’s skills eventually drew the attention of star skateboarders like Tony Hawk and Kenny Anderson, and, eventually, paved the way for his relocation to Los Angeles. Johns includes some captivating footage of Thalente within his South African community – particularly his mentor/best friend, Tammy – but largely follows his adjustment to life in America, including studying for his driver’s license and preparing to become an instructor in a kids’ skate camp. While she has found a likeable young subject with an ingratiating, ultimately uplifting story, the filmmaker could have given the doc much more heft and contrast by focusing more on Thalente’s time in South Africa. Still, it’s clear that the heartfelt project has resonated with audiences.