You are here: Home / Projects / Themba / Fighting AIDS with Stefanie Sycholt's movie "Themba – A Boy Called Hope"

Fighting AIDS with Stefanie Sycholt's movie "Themba – A Boy Called Hope"




Since the release of Stefanie Sycholt's award-winning movie "THEMBA - A Boy Called Hope", the Cinema for Peace Foundation has been actively promoting this film through its own screenings as well as helping set-up screening tours organized in South Africa and Zambia.

THEMBA tells a story of a boy from South Africa, following his aspiration to become a football player, regardless of earthshaking revelation – both he and his mother are infected with HIV. THEMBA is much more than a soccer film, it is a universal message of hope. This inspiring and entertaining movie is an instrument for the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa where more than 10% of the population is infected. Yet, talking about an infection is still widely considered a taboo.

THEMBA tells my story. My mother got HIV from her new boyfriend who came from the Eastern Cape. She got very sick and told me it was TB. […] I asked her if she had an HIV test at the clinic. She said she didn’t have HIV. […] When my mother died someone phoned from the Eastern Cape and told me that she and her boyfriend both had AIDS. I wish she had told me she had HIV. I wanted to tell her that I loved her, that I did not care if she had HIV. […] Please let other children see this film. Please let people like my mother see this film.- Zanele, age 17, Mbekweni Community, Paarl

Since October 2010 THEMBA was screened in over 95 rural and semi-rural communities and reached close to 12.500 people. Screenings followed by discussions have taken place in various rural and semi-rural areas around South Africa, reaching mostly young people, helping to break HIV/AIDS-related stigma and stereotypes.




Children of South Africa had sent a handful of enthusiastic “thank you” letters to the Cinema for Peace Foundation after watching THEMBA.

It is hoped that by continuing to support and raise funds for this Campaign, the movie THEMBA and its message of hope and understanding about the highly taboo subject of AIDS in the community, will reach as many young people in as many communities in South Africa as possible.

The Cinema for Peace Foundation is currently negotiating with its established South African partners on a new THEMBA screening tour in the rural areas around South Africa. The film tour would follow the lines of previous ones that took place in 2010 and 2011 but with the goal of reaching new audiences. For more information on the tours, please read the project background below.

We are also working on finding new partners for new tours and repeated educational screenings in several other African countries such as Swaziland, Uganda, Mali and Nigeria.

Project Background

The THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign in South Africa

Starting from October 2010, the movie “THEMBA – A Boy Called Hope”, which follows a young boy’s hopes and aspirations against all obstacles, including the HIV infection of his mother and himself, has made a tour across the nine provinces of South Africa. The THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign not only gave community members a chance to enjoy an entertaining and uplifting feature film, they also had the opportunity to discuss and workshop the issues raised in THEMBA – most notably HIV/AIDS and Poverty.

For the roll-out of the THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign, the Cinema for Peace Foundation supported DO Productions and their partnering NGOs such as GOLD Peer Education, the National Welfare Social Service & Development Forum, GCAP SA (Global Call to Action Against Poverty) and SCORE, who already worked intensively in the communities where THEMBA would be screened. Efforts have also been put into integrating the film into existing HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in South Africa.

During the tour, which was extended after a successful round in 2010 to another 20 screenings in 2011, THEMBA was screened in over 90 rural and semi-rural communities in all nine Provinces of South Africa with over 7000 men, women and children attending the screenings. The film has brought whole communities together to share their experiences and learn how to empower their lives through knowledge, using THEMBA as a platform from which to inspire these conversations.

To find out more about THEMBA and view pictures of the THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign please go to and

THEMBA Screenings with Youth Against AIDS in Germany

In addition to the THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign in South Africa, the Cinema for Peace Foundation has supported screenings of THEMBA at over 60 schools throughout Germany. These screenings were part of an Action Week to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among school students that was being carried out by Youth Against Aids (Jugend gegen AIDS) from 29 November to 5 December 2010.

On 30 November 2010, director Stefanie Sycholt attended a Special Screening in the city of Hamburg, which Youth Against AIDS organized with the support of the Cinema for Peace Foundation. After the screening, the attending school students had the chance to talk to Stefanie Sycholt about the making of the movie and the THEMBA Community Screenings Campaign in South Africa.

To find out more about Youth Against AIDS and their Action Week to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, please go to (currently available in German only).


Cape Town Screening and Desmond Tutu

Cinema for Peace also organized a special screening of the film for children in Cape Town during the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, presented by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In a truly electrifying atmosphere the audience that consisted of children of the township Masiphumele, where some of the film was shot, watched the film for the first time.

The premiere of Stefanie Sycholt’s moving film took place in South Africa on the 16th of July 2010 and again in Berlin on August 8th 2010.

The premiere in Germany was supported by CFPF, together with the Embassy of South Africa and German NGO „Gemeinsam für Afrika“ (“Together for Africa”). Miss Mbuyane‐Mokone, Jaka Bizilj, Paul Bendix and Jens Lehmann presented the movie.

Change Through Film


THEMBA- A Boy Called Hope

A trailer of the film Themba that highlights the issues of Aids in the community. Watch here...

Themba School Screenings, South Africa


Themba Screening South Africa