Image Alt

About The Film

Based on a true story

The Love For Her Family Held No Curfew. Needed No Permit. Had No Boundaries.

Poppie Nongena, is an Afrikaans/Xhosa South African, whose life revolves around her family and finding stability in a period of immense upheaval in South Africa when African women were forced - by arrests, fines and forced removal - to leave their homes and resettle in remote areas designated as black homelands. Accommodation is a perpetual struggle; Poppie finds ‘live-in’ jobs, seeing her children briefly at weekends. When her husband, Stone, becomes too ill to maintain his contract work, Poppie is deemed by the law to be an “illegal” resident in her own country. She engages in a desperate struggle with the authorities for permission to stay; moving from house to house, applying for permits, monthly extensions of permits, fortnightly extensions of extensions, appealing through employers and social workers. Her focus is firmly on the well-being and education of her children. She condemns her husband and daughter’s faith in traditional beliefs, as well as her son’s alliance with the revolution. Caught in the crossfire of her children’s needs, her husband’s illness, community anger and repressive laws, she is finally forced to give in just as the 1976 riots for freedom erupt. Poppie realizes that the time has come to hand over the baton to the next generation and to find meaning in their struggle.

A Christiaan Olwagen Film

Poppie Nongena is a multi-generational legacy piece based on the multi-award winning novel by South African author Elsa Joubert and tells the personal, true life story of a mother’s struggles, love and hope during Apartheid when inhumane government regulations separated husbands, wives and children.

The main focus of the film is not Apartheid, Colonialism, Capitalism or oppression. It is a character study told from the personal viewpoint and daily life of a black South African woman. It is the story of a mother who desperately tries to protect her children and her family.

-Winner of 12 2019 kykNET SilwerSkerm Film Festival Awards including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Feature.

-8 2020 South African Film & Television Awards nominations.

-Winner – 2 2020 South African Film & Television Awards – Best Actress in a Feature Film & Best Supporting Actress in a Feature Film.

-Winner – Best Actress in a Feature – 2020 Garden Route International Film Festival (GRIFF).

-Winner – Best Feature Film – 2020 5th BRICS Film Festival held during the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival.


The most humanising films yet made in this country.

- Keith Bain - Khuluma (South African Release)


The production, directed by award-winning Christiaan Olwagen, provides commanding performances from its diverse cast.

- Peter Feldman - The Citizen (South African Release)


This is one of those films that carries itself with a spectacular nervous energy.

- Kavish Chetty - Sunday Times (South African Release)


Poppie Nongena is an important film, well-acted, earnest and beautifully attuned in terms of production design, wardrobe and hair.

- Spling - (South African Release)


Poppie Nongena is a tour de force, a cinematic feat, a South African story told with empathy, grace, bold ferocity, and fearlessness. It’s a powerful fist in the air that shows defiance of our past, a reminder that we have a lot to heal from, and there’s still a long path ahead of us.

- Herman Eloff - Channel24 (South African Release)


Though essentially tragic, it lifts the spirit and stirs the heart. Such a work is Poppie Nongena!

- CS Monitor - New York (Stage Play Review)


Both Elsa Joubert's novel of the same name and the stage adaptation in Afrikaans were acclaimed in South Africa, perhaps partially because they told white South Africans about the ordeal of a black woman they knew. Many of them have a Poppie Nongena in their household.

- New York Times


It is one of the most important books written in Afrikaans.

- Max Du Preez (South African author, columnist and documentary filmmaker )