Along with the recently released gangster fable Tsotsi, U-Carmen suggests a genuine surge in South African-based cinema. The debut feature of British director Mark Dornford-May, this is a vibrant adaptation of Georges Bizet's 19th century opera Carmen, with the story relocated from a Seville slum to a contemporary black township and sung entirely in the Xhosa language.
No prior knowledge of the original yarn is required, with the filmmakers successfully breaking free of the material's stage origins to create a dynamic cinematic work. And there's a palpable chemistry between Carmen (an outstanding Pauline Malefane) and the Bible-reading policeman Sgt Jongikhaya (Andile Tshoni), whom she seduces with such tragic consequences. Seek it out.