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A documentary about an American science teacher's quest to turn around a struggling school in rural South Africa.
A documentary about an American science teacher's quest to turn around a struggling school in rural South Africa.
73 backers pledged $7,776 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates


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Palm Springs Premiere, DVDs and an update on Khulekani

Hello Backers,

I'm happy to report several exciting developments that have taken place since my last update.  

First and foremost, Zuluhoops will have its official world premiere at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs in early April!  AmDocs is not only "one of the top 25 film festivals worth the entry fee" according to Movie Magazine, it's also close enough to LA that Ken can be on hand.  For that reason, it was the first festival I applied to and I couldn't be happier that the film received early acceptance.  Keep an eye on for updates regarding the time and date (yet to be announced) or feel free to shoot me a message via this site.

Second, rewards are coming!  DVDs and blu-rays are being burned as I type this.  If you contributed $150 or more, you'll be receiving an email from me requesting shipping info so that I can send you your copy.  I'm also uploading a digital download and will be in touch about how donors who qualify can access that.

Last but not least, several months ago, I shared with you the news that Kulekani Mthembu, one of the stars of the film, lost his arm in a tragic attack.  I'm pleased to report that the GoFundMe site created on his behalf has generated more than $8000 in donations from about 100 donors -- including some of you -- and Khulekani will soon be getting a new prosthetic arm.  For ongoing updates on Khulekani's progress, including photos and video I shot with him in January, visit  If you make even the smallest donation to the fund, you can subscribe to updates that will automatically keep you informed.

Keep an eye out for more emails from this site which will be landing in your inbox soon...

With Gratitude,

Kristin Pichaske

Sad News

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Hello Backers,

I received some terrible news recently and am hoping you can take a few seconds today to help make a difference.  Khulekani Mthembu, the captain of the Zuluhoops basketball team and one of the stars of the film, was attacked with a machete on his way home from work and lost his right arm.  I can't begin to summarize what a tragic loss this is for him.  Not only does it curtail his ability to play basketball, but it will also make it extremely difficult for him to earn a living in South Africa, where jobs are already so hard to come by.

I have just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to pay for a prosthetic arm for Khulekani.  Some friends at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago have generously helped me map out a plan for his care and identify a top-notch prosthetist who has agreed to fit Khulekani at no charge.  All we need now is to raise $15,000 for the prosthetic itself and that starts with awareness.  I have created a post promoting the campaign on Facebook here:

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST as soon as you are able.  My goal is to generate as many shares as possible in the next hour to bump this post to the top of people's news feeds.  Please also visit the GoFundMe page, regardless of whether you are able to make a donation.  If we can generate a lot of traffic to the page, it might appear on the GoFundMe home page, which would be a huge help.

My highest priority right now is to help Khulekani get past this hurdle and to give him the best possible shot at a happy, productive future.  I am hopeful that Zuluhoops and the audiences who see it will help make that possible and appreciate more than ever your support.

Many Thanks,


Click on this photo to link directly to Khulekani's GoFundMe page
Click on this photo to link directly to Khulekani's GoFundMe page

Finally, a Film!

Hello Backers,

This week, as I proofread the credits for Zuluhoops, I was reminded of all the people who helped make the film a reality.  And a reality it is.  Editing is finally complete and the sound mix is happening as I type this.  I can't tell you how happy I am to finally reach the end of this long journey and I couldn't have done it without you.

A lot has happened since my last update.  Here are some highlights:

Chicago's Kartemquin Films (the documentary titans who brought us films like Hoop Dreams and Life Itself) brought Zuluhoops into their KTQ labs program and have generously been providing feedback on the work-in-progress, as well as distribution strategies.  Kartemquin also did the color-correction and converted all that all SD footage to HD.  The results are pretty impressive.

Last fall, at the international Fulbright Conference in Washington, DC, Zuluhoops was featured at the closing night banquet.  Words can't describe how it felt to receive a standing ovation from 350 Fulbright scholars for a film that wasn't even finished yet! Since that screening, several Fulbright chapters have hosted work-in-progress screenings in cities around the world. The most recent and memorable screening took place at UCLA in April.  It was a thrill (and a huge relief) to see Ken and his family enjoying the film in their home town.

Zuluhoops also received finishing grants from The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Columbia College, and the Puffin Foundation to cover expenses like music rights and sound mixing.

Thanks for your patience throughout this process. It has taken longer than I would have liked!  I hope to have actual DVDs for supporters in a month or two.  I'll also be looking into ways to deliver the film digitally for those who are interested.  

In honor of the power of persistence, I'm sharing a short excerpt from the film in which two students, Khulekani and Sthembiso, begin tackling the challenge of learning to do a slam dunk.  

Many thanks,


Rough Cut Screening Next Week!

Hello Supporters of Zuluhoops,

It's been a productive summer in the editing room!   We are closing in on a new rough cut of Zuluhoops and are looking forward to screening it for live audiences very soon.  The folks at Kartemquin (the much acclaimed Chicago-based collective that made Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters and many other documentary greats) have graciously agreed to host a community screening and give us some feedback on September 27.  We are thrilled to have their valuable input.

In the meantime, we would like to invite all of you to a sneak preview next Thursday, August 30 at 6pm.  This one will be small and casual and our goal is to assess the reactions of regular viewers (as opposed to other documentary makers).  Depending on how many of you take me up on this offer, we will either screen at my home in Andersonville (for a smaller crowd) or at Columbia College (for a larger crowd).  Please let know if you can make it asap so that we can finalize details.

For those of you who don't happen to live in Chicago or can't attend for whatever reason, I'll be posting some new scenes from the film on this sight in the coming weeks.  And if your pledge earned you an online preview of the rough cut, expect to received a digital link in September.

Thanks once again for your support!  We couldn't have made it to this milestone without you.


4 More Days...


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