In this remarkable film about odd and beautiful talents in an unlikely and sometimes unwelcome environment, music is more than just a hobby, it's a way of life. In the small, picturesque seaside town of Hermanus in South Africa's Western Cape province, 13-year-old Elton and his friends sing for the small change that tourists provide. They are a popular attraction, but they are no ordinary buskers. With unrestrained gusto, Elton and his friends belt out perfectly articulated arias with the passion of their idol Luciano Pavarotti. The sight is almost surreal, framed as it is against the clear blue ocean where the whales, the area's main tourist attraction, sing their own melodies. Despite their being a major hit with the tourists, the local community board seems annoyed that these boys are so unconventionally (and impressively) making money -- so annoyed that they ban the boys from singing and order the police to remove them by force if they persist. But one sympathetic community leader arranges for the boys to open for a regional operatic touring group that has a show in Hermanus, which starts them on the road to formal training. Filmmaker Odette Geldenhuys captures the start of Elton's journey from an enthusiastic imitator to an eager student of the operatic form, constructing a touching film whose subjects are handled with much more tenderness than they're given by the world they inhabit.
Odette Geldenhuys grew up in a small town in South Africa and studied at the University of Cape Town. She trained as a human rights and labor lawyer and worked with the prestigious South African law firm Cheadle, Thomson & Haysom. She has also worked with the United Nations and the Legal Aid Board in South Africa. Her client list has included farm workers, inner-city housing tenants, and laborers. In 2002, Geldenhuys decided to follow her passion and become a full-time filmmaker. Being Pavarotti is her first film as a director.