thembaFree international movie screenings in Chicago this summer? Yes, please! I’ve got my eye on Themba: a boy called Hope. Themba is a gifted young man from the Eastern Cape province in South Africa with dreams of becoming a soccer star. Unfortunately, his realities include living in a round-hut village fraught with economic hardships and an unstable home. Will his dreams come true or are the obstacles too strong?

Themba: a boy called Hope, tells this inspiring boy’s story with the South African coast as the backdrop. The movie, 96 minutes in length, is told in English and Xhosa with English subtitles. Chicagoans will be treated to the free movie screening on June 15, 2011, at the Chicago Cultural Center at 6:30 p.m.

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The movie is part of the 9th annual International Screenings Program, voted by the Chicago Reader as the “Best Free Film Series in Chicago” in 2010, and is presented by the International Connections Committee of Cinema/Chicago together with the Chicago Cultural Center and local consular and cultural partners.

The weekly film series, running May 4 – September 24, showcases 21 films from around the world that are not widely available in the U.S. The films, representing a wide array of genres from heart-pounding thrillers and laugh-out-loud comedies to soul-stirring dramas and poignant romances, demonstrate the wealth and artistry of filmmaking cultures from around the world.

In many cases, as in Themba’s movie screening, there is a post-viewing discussion scheduled. After viewing Themba: a boy called Hope, viewers will be able to hear several panelists who will discuss the film. The panelists are Dr. Nomonde Xundu, Health Attaché at the South African Embassy in Washington, Ms. Magugu Davis, principal partner of Thanda International, Dr. Fatima Mncube-Barnes, Library Director, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee and Judge George Maluleke, South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg.

If you’re in the Chicago area this summer and enjoy independent and great quality international fims, you owe it to yourself to check out the complete film schedule and enjoy a free movie (or two).

~Megy

Megy Karydes is founder/owner of World Shoppe, a fair trade importing business that works directly with artisans in South Africa. She’s hoping to return to South Africa later this year. You can follow her on Facebook & Twitter.