From the Streets of South Africa to California and into the Heart of skateboarding.
I Am Thalente is a verité documentary about once homeless skateboarder Thalente Biyela’s journey from the streets of South Africa to Los Angeles, California and into the heart of skateboarding. With the support of skate companies LRG and Bombshell, and skateboarding legends Kenny Anderson, Guy Mariano, and Marc Johnson, the producers have turned to specialist film crowd funding platform Seed & Spark to finance the completion of the documentary film offering unprecedented incentives and access to some of skateboarding’s greatest.
Nineteen year old Thalente Biyela has been homeless since age nine... At age 10, he was given his first skateboard. Skateboarding gave him an escape from the harsh realities of street life, a way to express himself, and led him to a community of friends who would become his family. His effortless style at a public skatepark in Durban quickly attracted international attention, and last year Thalente was given the opportunity to travel to the states and skate with some of the industry’s most accomplished pros: A dream unimaginable for a homeless kid whose inevitable journey begins and ends on the streets.
Whilst this story hinges on Thalente’s love of skateboarding, it gives insight into the challenges that homeless youths face without family, literacy, role models, or hope. Skateboarding becomes a source of strength and competence for Thalente to rise out of circumstance and make a place for himself in the world. His journey offers a unique perspective on skateboarding, the power of uncompromised acceptance, community and individuality.
Says director Natalie Johns, “I Am Thalente is this young man’s resume, his character reference and his best chance to continue down the path of building a better life. More than this, it is a chance to experience and support one boy’s struggle for survival and unwavering dream to spread the love of skateboarding.”
Johns met Thalente through friends and family in her hometown of Durban and was instantly captivated by his incredibly story. She has documented his journey to the US, his warm acceptance into the skateboarding community in LA, and the guidance by pro skater Kenny Anderson. In the opening of I am Thalente’s Seed&Spark pitch video, Kenny Anderson is at a loss for words to describe Thalente’s affinity for skateboarding: “I don’t know, it’s just like that unexplainable type thing. When you see it, you know it.” Which is perhaps why Johns’ film will be so important to bring Thalente’s story to the screen: audiences will see what words cannot capture.