South Africa has a small but robust film industry that produces several nationwide releases every year. While South African films rarely go on to achieve mainstream success on the international film market, a small number of South African productions have received international critical acclaim.
International production companies routinely use South Africa to shoot their films due to the low cost of extras, advanced production infrastructure and attractive natural scenery. The majority of these films are 'B' grade and released directly to DVD and television. A number of Bollywood films have been filmed in South Africa.
A handful of South African films have achieved significant success both in domestic markets and abroad. The majority of these have been comedies, with the classic The Gods Must be Crazy! (1980) generally recognised as the first international hit produced by South Africa. The film was so popular that it spawned four sequels, three of which were filmed specifically for the Asian market.
Leon Schuster is a producer and actor who has branded South African humour virtually singlehandedly. Schuster is responsible for producing a string of South Africa's biggest hits, including You Must be Joking (1986) and Mr Bones (2001). Mr Bones, the story of a white sangoma or witchdoctor, while lambasted by critics, enjoyed reasonable success in its international release.
While the majority of South African films that achieve significant commercial success are comedies, the country has produced a small selection of critically acclaimed dramas. The most successful of these was the 2005 release Tstotsi, the story of a street thug who finds himself in charge of a baby after a hijacking, which won the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2005 Academy Awards.
The South African film industry employs a number of actors, many of whom are also employed as actors in domestically produced drama series. Many of the most famous South African actors are major characters in one of the daily drama series, frequently referred to as 'soapies', and are only occasionally recruited to perform in major domestic productions.
A very small selection of South African actors have gone on to receive international acclaim and appear regularly in major Hollywood productions. The most famous of these is Charlize Theron, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 2003 drama Monster.