Tsotsi has never known a real home, a real family or even a real name (Tsotsi is a nickname roughly translated as "thief"). An orphan in the Johannesburg townships all his life, much of it spent sleeping at an abandoned construction site, he and his likewise-situated friends get by as common thieves, mugging and robbing (and sometimes murdering) their randomly selected targets. On a solo job one rainy night, Tsotsi burglarizes a woman arriving at her gated home. Acting recklessly, he forces the woman from her car at gunpoint, ultimately shooting her in the stomach before speeding off in the stolen vehicle.
The amateurish carjacking has netted more than an expensive auto however as only afterwards does Tsotsi realize what else he's escaped with--the woman's infant son. At a loss for what to do, Tsotsi bides his time in hiding, meanwhile discovering just what it means to be responsible for another human being. As the child's unlikely surrogate caretaker, he does his best to keep it nourished, an act involving the coercion of a wet nurse (also at gunpoint). Tsotsi also does his utmost to keep out of sight of hypervigilant authorities--the baby's father is a wealthy, high-ranking city official--who will not only treat him violently if caught, but will help ensure he receives, if not the death penalty, then the severest of sentences. But he knows he can't hide for long, and soon must make the biggest decision of his young life.
Tsotsi won the oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of 2005, and deservedly so. It exposes the vividly contrasting lifestyles in post-Apartheid South Africa where wealth and poverty make strange, often tragic bedfellows. Even with an overhaul of improvements to the infrastructure of the country, conditions remain devastatingly bad for millions of disadvantaged squalor camp residents, many of whom have AIDS and/or are stuck without a chance. Yet where there is love, there is hope and Tsotsi offers a vision of the kind of redemption available in even the most dire of circumstances. (DVD TSOTSI)