The film, directed by Natalie Johns, tells the story of South African teenager and skateboarding phenom Thalente Biyela (his first name means 'Talent' in Zulu). Though homeless since the age of 9, Thalente found a place in the skating community in Durban, the coastal city where he grew up. When a video of the teenager in action reached American pro skater Kenny Anderson, he invited Thalente to the United States, where his abilities attracted the attention of the likes of Tony Hawk.

The documentary is notable as the first film to be distributed by indie film crowd-funding site Seed&Spark, who are releasing it on VOD today via their site, as well as other platforms such as iTunes. Describing their model as an "ecosystem" for filmmakers, Seed&Spark says they plan to "explor[e] the idea that by building an audience through crowdfunding, a filmmaker can then exploit that same audience in distribution," as well as "provide filmmakers not only with a massive pipeline to reach the marketplace, [and] the expertise and knowledge of how to build an audience." The company will make use of "the data from crowdfunding and innovative ways to incorporate the backers to motivate them for the marketing campaign." Their advantage, they say, is that their strategy to appeals, "not to an audience we project, but to an audience we already know exists." 

I Am Thalente has been playing to acclaim at festivals and is currently screening around the country. We will keep our eyes on whether the festival success extends to VOD, and whether Seed&Spark's success as a fundraising platform extends to distribution. What do you think about the prospects of a crowdfunding site as a distribution platform?

Watch 'I Am Thalente' at Seed&Spark here.

Source: Seed&Spark