Chef’s kiss to director Thina Zibi, serving ama’Italiano and top performances in new work

The latest work from Director Thina Zibi is a hilarious, relatable and distinctly South African ad with some serious Italian flair. With the backing of Triple Story Content and creative from The Odd Number, ‘Always Eatalian’ for Fatti’s and Moni’s is why we love South African advertising. The commercial not only delights with moments that stay with you long after you’ve watched them, but it solidifies Thina’s space in the industry as an exceptionally talented performance director. Bravo!

The last time we checked in with Thina Zibi, she was awarded Best in Craft for her direction for The Department of Education. As a filmmaker finding her emotive storytelling groove, ‘Always Eatalian’ feels like quite a departure, showcasing Thina’s knack for comedy performance and nuanced storytelling.

Executive Creative Director of The Odd Number, Terry Mckenna says: ‘I truly believe that Thina is one of the hottest up-and-coming directors on the continent. She is blessed with the rare ability of both being great with performance and visually delivering a beautiful piece of film.’

No matter what you call them, we’ve all seen them, South African Italians – ama’Italiano – a sub-culture of South Africans who have decided to live a life that is centred around Italian culture, living la dolce vita right here in Mzansi. ‘It’s a subculture where looking good, feeling good and dressing well is a priority, even if you live in a back room in your granny’s house, what you look like walking down the street is very important;  stylish suits, gold jewellery, they talk the talk and we all know at least one uncle like this.’ Says Thina.

Director Thina Zibi on set with The Odd Number

The creative team at the Odd Number brought the local insight of the ama’Italiano lifestyle to the brief, inspired by the idea that ‘We already dress Italian, drive Italian, so eating Italian shouldn’t be so foreign.’ Thina adds: ‘I love working with The Odd Number because they constantly push creativity to deliver unexpected and memorable ideas for brands.’

‘The Fatti’s & Moni’s Always Eat’alian commercial was great fun to shoot and I found Triple Story Content to be a breath of fresh air. They are very committed to, and passionate about producing great content.’ Adds The Odd Number ECD Terry Mckenna.

On her approach to telling this uniquely South African yet also Italian story, Thina says: ‘For me, the key to this was landing the similarities of the two cultures, South African and Italian. This lifestyle is not something we learnt in Italy or saw in a Louis Vuitton ad, it’s inherently who we are, what we learnt from our fathers and uncles, it’s tradition. Our South African ama’Italiano lifestyle includes mothers constantly feeding their sons, the way we feel pride in how we look and our clean homes, there is a brotherhood, we love who we are, and religion is big… Even the father of the house, whether he has passed or not, his impact on both cultures is always felt. I deliberately put the portrait of the father on the wall of the house, it gives the sense that they are upholding the father’s tradition who is always watching over them, it was also a nod to the “Swenkas” and the “Papa G’s” of South Africa. It’s not about worshipping the European culture, it’s about embracing our local culture. Visually I wanted to remind the viewer how South African we are, which is why I decided to place the commercial in the township. The dual realities were very important to me, I didn’t want to mock this culture or create caricatures. These are local boys who love the Italian lifestyle, and I wanted to be respectful with their story and of course, have fun and be a bit out there, but it had to be real and true.’ And that is the success of this ad, you feel like you are 100% watching real South African characters, so relatable!

Executive Producer of Triple Story Content, Monareng Makwetla says: ‘Thina’s background as a creative in agency and my background working in agencies as well, we know the blood, sweat and tears that a creative team has to go through to get scripts and concept approved. By the time they are on set, they have given so much of themselves to get to that point, we simply cannot ruin it for them, and that means not just the story, but also their experience. At the end of the day, they have put a lot of trust into not only Thina the director but also us as a production company. We know what they have given and we truly value that. Thina always brings a respect for the story and the job at hand, she is determined to push everything to its limits. She won’t rest until she executes an idea in the very best way possible. And that’s why we love working with her because we want to get the best out of every job, irrespective of limitations, we will always show respect for ideas.’

Shot over one day in Soweto ‘Eatalian’ gets high-fives all around from us, from the production quality, art direction, wardrobe and camera language to Thina’s insightful performance directing, more of this, please!

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Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

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