What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie shows kids and young people living on the streets and in poverty in South Africa, with scenes showing harsh violence (stabbing, shooting, beating), drinking and drug use, the accidental kidnapping of a baby during a carjacking, posters warning against AIDS, and the parents' subsequent distress. The focus is on a young hoodlum, whose initial inability to cope with the infant's needs leads to terrible mistakes (the baby is covered with ants and filth, cries, needs food). He holds a gun on a young woman to force her to breastfeed the baby; he beats one friend and regrets it; he kills another in order to stop more violence.
- Families can talk about Tsotsi's transformation, from tough-fronting street gangster to vulnerable, generous young man. How does the movie show how he became so callous, with flashbacks to his mother's illness and death, his father's abuse, and Tsotsi's subsequent lack of a home and stability? How do you come to understand the reasons for his cruelty, even as you hope he changes his attitude? How does the baby's helplessness affect Tsotsi's necessary focus on his own survival, before all else? How does the young mother help him to change his mind-set?