You didn’t hear it from me, but don’t be too surprised if you read about Miramax president Daniel Battsek acquiring distrib rights to Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, a flat-out extraordinary South African drama based on a novel by Athol Fugard. I finally saw it yesterday afternoon after being badgered to death by Donna Daniels’ publicity team for the last two or three weeks to do just that. Set in a Johannesburg shantytown, Tsotsi (pronounced “Sawt-see”) is about a bloodless teenage thug (Presley Chweneyagae) who discovers a measure of humanity in himself when he starts to care for an infant who happened to be in the back seat of a car he stole. Unlike Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s Palme d’Or-winning L’enfant, which it vaguely resembles, Tsotsi has a potential to snag some decent coin as well as Oscar nominations (Best Foreign-Language Film, Best Actor, etc.), critics awards, Golden Globe awards, etc. How do I know it will sell tickets? Because my kind and compassionate Toronto friend Leora Conway saw Tsotsi at the Wednesday night premiere and went apeshit…she was beaming when she told me about it afterwards, and she said it made her cry at the end. It’s conceivable that a distributor other than Miramax might swoop in and grab Tsotsi, but somebody ought to and get it Oscar-qualified as soon as possible. This is one of those “it” films…I could feel the rooted energy from the get-go…from Hood’s hard-edged direction, the simple and elegant photography (which contrasts with City of God‘s jumpy hand-held visual style) and Chweneyagae’s searing performance as a stone psychopath who sometimes deolves into a terrified three-year-old…it all coagulates into something extra. Two or three weeks ago it won the Edinburgh Film Festival Audience Award and the Michael Powell award for Best British Film, so you have to figure it’s doing a couple of things right.