kykNET SILWERSKERM FILM FESTIVAL’S EXPANDING EMBRACE DRIVES ITS SUCCESS

The short film Leemte en Leegheid was both an audience favourite and winner as the Best Short Film.

It was time to celebrate at the 10th kykNET Silwerskerm Film Festival following some sidestepping during the pandemic and hectic lockdowns. But they’re back and it appeared as if many filmmakers of both full length and short films benefited from the grace period to sharpen their skills and their scripts. In the long run, this has been a festival that has added potential and punch to the local film landscape. DIANE DE BEER takes a look at her personal 2022 favourites:

The power of storytelling was again in evidence at this year’s 10th celebratory Silwerskerm Film Festival held at Camps Bay’s Bay Hotel at the end of March.

It has always been my experience that the arts is one of the best ways to get to know one another, especially in a country as diverse as ours and (because of our horrific history) still divided in so many ways.

But with different communities sharing their stories, we are invited into different spaces, some familiar and others not so much.

Perhaps the more extreme example is Down So Long, a story set in Hangberg, the settlement in Houtbay so many hoped they could wish away. It is too visible a reminder of the inequalities so rampant in our land with the more affluent Hout Bay directly facing this more struggling offshoot

And yet, that’s not what the film is about. It’s the story of Joseph Mabena who lives with his wife Doreen and their children and spouses and grandchildren in their overcrowded house. When he is injured in a workplace accident, he is offered a substantial amount of money as compensation for the loss of an eye.

But it doesn’t take long for him to see exactly what is happening at home. There’s a sudden rush of affection as the family rallies in the hope of turning their lives around with this unexpected windfall.

Mabena’s eyes are opened, he sees through their deception and arrives home with a new girlfriend.

Scenes from an enthusiastic cast and crew in the powerful and revealing Down So Long.

What makes this such an exciting venture is that the filmmakers wanted to work with what they viewed as  “invisible people” and, by telling their stories, give them a voice.

Workshopped productions are perhaps more easily done in theatre, and here it is especially intriguing, as the cast was comprised of both professional actors and participants from the community who could bring validity to the script.

It’s yet another way of giving voice to the voiceless, and the screening was particularly enchanting because of the excitement of those who had participated. They might not have the acting experience but they came from this place, know the people and could recreate the feeling of what the people and the place represented. “It’s a way of working with the community who represent the lived experience,” said one of the director/producers.

That is the real value of the piece. The camera was used in observational fashion and those of us watching could get a real feel for the place. As entertaining as it was, it is also hugely educational, a true gift.

The Barakat family with Vinette Ebrahim (centre) the heart of the story.

Barakat, a film that deservedly walked off with a clutch of prizes, also deals with a specific community, but this time it is a professional cast telling the story of a Cape Flats Muslim family, who are experiencing their own trauma, trials and tribulations.

This particular community has often been presented with a political backdrop and usually by others telling their stories, but this time, it is just another family going through their own stuff while showing us a lifestyle of a particular community who isn’t usually featured in this fashion.

In interviews, director/screenwriter Amy Jephta acknowledges that she wanted to tell a story about a normal family, their joys and struggles, in this instance that of a Muslim widow Aishee Davids (Vinette Ebrahim) who gathers her family to tell them about her engagement to a Christian suitor.

With four sons, this isn’t going to be easy and this is the journey Jephta (and her co-writer Ephraim Gordon) takes us on.

It is the way the story is told (often with gentle humour), the excellent cast led by a magnificent Vinette Ebrahim (who received the Best Actress award) and the superb production values (deservedly winning them Best Screenplay, Best Original Soundtrack (Kyle Shepherd), Best Production Design and Best Supporting Actress for June van Mersch).

The storytelling sweeps you off your feet as you are invited into the heart of this close-knit yet squabbling family, who has forgotten all about their blessings and are focussed on their individual needs. Bakarat means blessing, and that’s exactly what this left me with while watching. We live in a country where for far too long certain voices and stories were ignored.

By acknowledging who we are, our stories embrace the riches which have been neglected, and we all benefit.

Another filmmaker I’ve been watching the past couple of years is Etienne Fourie and this time (as he explained at the post screening discussions) with the appropriately OTT Stiekyt, he truly made the film he wanted to make. And it shows. It’s a scream in many different ways.

First off, he obviously has an imagination which runs riot, and with drag queens (a whole clutch of them) running the show, he could afford to go wild.

Different looks from Best Actor Paul du Toit in Skietyt.

But he does his homework and gets all the building blocks ready before starting a shoot. He has put together a dream cast of young actors. Start with Paul du Toit (who won Best Actor) who plays an actor who joins a failing drag club to save his marriage, and that line should already say enough. He needs money to pay the bills and his wife (Cintaine Schutte) is unaware of his dilemma.

A transformed Albert Pretorius in Stiekyt winning him Best Supporting Actor Award

The club hosts a handful of drag queens played by actors who are tough to recognise in their extravagant costumes, colourful coiffure and knock-‘em-dead makeup, but this camp coterie drives the film in most joyous fashion.

Combine all that with the acting quality of Albert Pretorius (who won Best Supporting Actor), Wessel Pretorius, Carlton George, Jacques Bessinger (in fact the full enselmble) and you already have a winner.

But everything isn’t a laughing matter, as the story unravels in full blooded gory fashion when a killer suddenly emerges in spectacular style. It is that kind of film. If you buy into the premise, you could just die laughing. But I will keep watching this particular screenwriter/director whose movies all seem to pay homage to cinema in a most original fashion.

His films keep you watching and I can’t wait for the moment he strikes gold.

Short films play a huge part in this particular film festival, and this is where future filmmakers start emerging. They’re fun to watch as they are plentiful and give you an idea what stories are being told and what talent is out there from cinematographers to composers to actors – and of course directors and screenwriters.

Many of our most promising directors dabbled in this particular section before they tackled a full-length film.

Ivan Abrahams and Lida Botha in Leemtes and Leegheid

For the first time the audience favourite, Leemtes en Leegheid, was also the winning short film. Starring real-life husband and wife team Lida and Johan Botha, its a stripped yet emotional story that deals with grief as an elderly couple come to terms with the inevitable. A stunning portrayal of ageing, loss and battling with loneliness.

In sharp contrast, Skyn deals in contemporary sass with a young woman who is desperate to escape the drudgery of her own life by imagining a different starring role. The story stars the talented Carla Smith, who also wrote the script winning her the Best Actress award as well as a prize for the Best Ensemble with co-stars Albert Pretorius, Wilhelm van der Walt and Greta Pietersen.

It felt young, had energetic punch and gave Pretorius a very funky make-over to boot.

Scenes from Verstikking; Nagvoël, Sporadies Nomadies, and Twintig Tone In ‘n Hangkas;

Other short films that impressed were Aan/Af rewarding Marlo Minnaar with a Best Actor award; Bergie by Dian Weys, who showed you could make impact in 7 minutes; Nagvoël, which told a cool superhero tale; Sporadies Nomadies, which explored the estranged relationship between a father and daughter; the wacky Twintig Tone In ‘n Hangkas; an intriguing Verstikking; and out-of-competition’s Die Vegan en die Jagter, which turns stereotypes on their head.

A scene from the heart-wrenching Lakutshon’ Ilanga

Something else to look out for is the Bafta-nominated Lakutshon’ Ilanga, which deservedly won an Oscar in 2021 in the Student-Academy section. It is a heart-wrenching local story of a young black nurse in 1985 apartheid South Africa who is trying to fend for her young activist brother. It is inspired by a true story, so many of which still have to be told, and reminds us of how far we have come and how long the road still stretches up ahead.

Both Karen Meiring (former KykNet channel director and founding member of the Silwerskerm) and Jan du Plessis (MNet content director) were honoured with Exceptional Contribution awards for their extraordinary service through the years.

And their input will keep giving to this festival, which in the past 10 years has had a huge impact on the local film industry – and it keeps expanding and embracing, which is a big reason for its success.

For more detail on the festival and the films and where they can be seen, go to www.silwerskerm.co.za.

All the shorfilms that premiered at the 10th Silwerskerm Film Festival are now available on DStv Now and Dstv Catch Up. The feature films will be on DStv Box Office, or released theatrically:

Gaia: Limited theatrical release:

CAPE TOWN: The Labia: 22, 23 April – https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/event.aspx?itemid=1514006081

JOHANNESBURG

The Bioscope: 23, 28, 29 April – https://tickets.tixsa.co.za/event/special-screenings-of-gaia

DStv BoxOffice: From 22 April

boxoffice.dstv.com (no subscription needed)

Beurtkrag: DStv Box Office release – 16 June 2022.

Indemnity: Ster Kinekor theatrical release – 12 May at Ster Kinekor Theatres.

Vlugtig: DStv BoxOffice until 25 April 2022.

Down so long: Coming soon to DStv BoxOffice. Release date to be confirmed.

Stiekyt: Coming soon to DStv BoxOffice. Release date to be confirmed.

SYLVAINE STRIKE’S FIREFLY AND KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN MARK STUNNING RETURN TO LIVE THEATRE

Sylvaine Strike, director/actor/playwright and any other creative word one can dream up, currently has two major plays running – the one, Firefly,  at The Baxter’s Flip Side Theatre until April 9 and the other, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees with the last show on April 1. DIANE DE BEER reviews: 

I was blessed to see both productions with the one at the start and the other at the end of a run. Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre heralded a strong emergence of theatre in this period where many of us are still holding our breath, and the Strike double whammy is a theatre-starved public’s salvation.

The bewitching Firefly, which as one of the first Covid-19 impacted productions saw light of day as a Woordfees digital production, made a magically mesmerising transition. I had lost my heart earlier to the filmed production and was excitedly inquisitive at how that particular story – with many filmic tricks up its sleeve – would translate and transform on stage.

But this particular creative quartet (Strike, Andrew Buckland, Toni Morkel as director and Tony Bentel on piano) are the perfect combo. This is their theatrical landscape. Give them a stage and they will start telling stories in such an imaginative way, it becomes a visual feast.

Firefly with Sylvaine Strike and Andrew Buckland. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht

Because they have all worked together, they understand each other’s strengths, and Morkel could stretch that piece of string intuitively with fantastically imaginative and explosive pyrotechnics.

Buckland and Strike are a brilliant blend of artistry with an instinct for detail that holds your attention gently yet persistently. Storytelling is their forte, aided by the fact that they have an endless supply of tools to draw on to embellish a wink or the final lift of a foot to express and underline the tiniest emotion.

It is theatre at its best when it has you smiling from start to finish because of the artistry, the wizardry of the production, the perfection of the coupling, and just the sheer audacity of the storytelling.

Firefly with Sylvaine Strike and Andrew Buckland. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht

No matter how or why, just immerse yourself and see what happens when Saartjie Botha commands two artists to give her a production in the purest style of theatre.

If you have seen the digital version that’s  a bonus, because to witness how one story can be told in such magnificent splendour in two completely different approaches is truly special and quite rare. The one had all the bells and whistles and worked like a charm. But here, with Strike and Buckland live on stage with just themselves to grab hold of their audience and cast that spell, the essence of theatre comes into play – and again I willingly lost my heart.

Add to the two artists on stage, the magnificence of Wolf Britz’s set and props as well as starstruck-inducing lighting and the keyboard genius of Bentel’s soundtrack that holds every emotion so thrillingly in a familiar yet completely Bentel-constructed composition.

If you want to see how the best make theatre with their instincts, intuition and imagination, don’t miss the sparkling Firefly. Yet don’t think for one second that the miracle unfolding on stage didn’t come with buckets of blood, sweat, tears and ENDLESS talent. Part of the theatrical trickery of this foursome is to present something that is this skilled as seemingly effortless.

It’s brilliant and personally I hope to see this travel around the country casting its spell throughout. We are desperately in need of this kind of adult fairy tale in these tumultuous times.

And then there’s Strike the director in Kiss of the Spider Woman, a play she has always wanted to do and again, perfect for these times.

Casting the vibrant acting duo Wessel Pretorius and Mbulelo Grootboom was genius in itself and created fireworks from the start. Their styles suit the different characters of the two men trapped in a confined space which doesn’t only inhibit their bodies and movement, but also their minds.

And with the same impact that theatre has on our welcome release from the strictest lockdown rules, these two escape into an imaginary world to release their anguish, which is difficult to avoid in this cruelly confined and claustrophobic space. If they want to survive this ordeal, they have to find a way to caress their minds in a mindful yet almost mysterious and magical way. Storytelling is the obvious solution and with Pretorius’s Molina someone who has long ago created a world where he can live out his fantasies, he is the perfect conduit for playwright Manuel Puig’s escapist fantasy.

Watching these two men in a dance of deliverance in a fight for a freedom that can only be obtained through their imagination is enchanting and with these past few years still part of our daily minds, we understand what is missing in our lives with the total absence of this kind of artistry. Puig’s Kiss masterfully underlines the impact of the theatrical when lives could become meaningless.

Molina has a few props as he cunningly fabricates feminine style with anything he can find but more than anything, it is his feline movements and the visual aphrodisiac that in this instance is the result not only of their imprisonment but also the way that Molina penetrates the more stoic Valentin’s being.

How could they not turn to one another, reach out and finally hold and nurture the other’s vulnerability in a space that is relentlessly cold? Nothing matters, our prejudices dissipate and the only thing that gives meaning is the humanity of the other.

With Strike’s razor-sharp eye and precise direction, Mbulelo and Pretorius’s complementing acting styles as well as their individually contrasting physical presence hit all the right boxes.

While the play runs without interval for two hours, it is mesmerising, never letting go.

I was transfixed.

WHEN VOICES AS STRONG AS PEDRO ALMODOVAR AND MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL GET INVOLVED THE LIVES OF MOTHERS SHINE WITH GREAT STRENGTH

The universe of mothers is something everyone has plenty to say on. But take two storytellers with the gravitas and sparkle of Pedro Almodovar and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who seamlessly slides from actor to director, and you have two extraordinary films with casts that make the stories come alive. DIANE DE BEER reviews:

The great thing about a new Pedro Almodóvar movie is that it is like coming home. It’s about the colours and the characters, the way he tells his stories and the choices he makes. From the start I’ve been a fan.

And because I haven’t yet been back to brick-and mortar-cinemas, I have to depend on what is offered to me. DStv’s Box Office could not have made a better decision than adding Almodóvar’s latest film PARALLEL MOTHERS to its line-up. Not in a million years did I expect that! (The run is finished, but try streaming it somewhere else)

Like the name suggests, it is about mothers but that is about the only thing in this film that is predictable. The rest is like a crazy Almodóvar adventure which makes twists and takes turns to make your head spin. In typical Almodóvar fashion, it’s a story of humanity and even if wild, not that improbable that you can’t take your emotions with you on this ride.

There’s so much that made me happy. I want to live in an Almodóvar world, the way he dresses his people and his rooms, his landscapes and the faces he peoples his films with. All of these appeal to me and take me to a place where I can wallow for a couple of hours.

And then there’s the magnificent Penelope Cruz. She has never done better than in an Almodóvar movie. They get and trust one another and as she grows older, she has also let go and allows him to push her where he wants her to go.

It’s the story of two unlikely mothers-to-be, the one a 40-something and the other just out of her teens (Milena Smit). Together they give birth to their first babies but because of their circumstances, their lives and the outcomes are completely different. And yet they connect through these circumstances that bind them together in a completely fantastic fashion.

Being Almodóvar, there’s also a political thread that runs through the film that plays out both visually and emotionally in a way that rips your heart out. You wouldn’t want it any other way though.

From the leader of the pack, Cruz, to the young Smit, and another Almodóvar regular, Rossy de Palma, they all climb into their characters and before long you’ve forgotten this is only a movie. Don’t miss it, and especially if you don’t know this Spanish filmmaker’s films, have some fun in his world.

And hopefully you have Netflix to access the acting phenomenon Olivia Colman’s latest exposé of feelings in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, THE LOST DAUGHTER, based on the short novel by Elena Ferrante. It’s also a film on motherhood but in this instance coming from a completely different place – and I’m sure on all counts, many women will identify.

I was almost a newly-wed when I decided not to have children. At the time and as I grew older, the fact that I had taken that decision and wasn’t dictated to by perhaps an inability to have children (don’t know, I never tried!), was often disturbing to others. I was called selfish, asked what I would do when I was old and so forth.

And what this film deals with is also a motherhood topic that isn’t often discussed or publicly explored. The title The Lost Daughter already opens many different possibilities, but what is really at the core here is the inability of some women to easily fall into the mothering role. It isn’t that they don’t love their children or even had an unhappy childhood themselves, it simply doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But in our world today (and that before and after us, I suspect), motherhood is sacrosanct.

In Gyllenhaal and Colman’s extraordinary hands and made with an extremely sensitive yet startling vision, the story unfolds in delicate yet dramatic fashion. It takes a while to find your way, especially if you don’t really know what the film’s about. But from the start it grips you as red herrings unfold and tumble out all over the place.

However, yearning, it seems, is the great motivator here. When you discover something in others (and on full frontal display) that you have lacked, it can do strange things to you head.

More than anything though thanks to the teaming of these two talents, it is the unusual story that turns this into such a tour de force. It’s difficult to believe that there are still such taboo topics so part of our everyday lives.

Everything is also enhanced in the film universe by the diversity on all levels that is growing and unfolding by the day. The more stories that are told from different perspectives, the better and more probing our films will be. And in that way, hopefully touch us more deeply, as both these films do so magnificently.

Parallel Mothers is available on DStv Box Office until 1 April 2022, and The Lost Daughter was on local release.

FIREFLY GLOWS WITH WONDER AS A CLUTCH OF ARTISTS CELEBRATE THE MAGIC OF LIVE THEATRE

Pictures taken off the screen by directors Toni Morkel and Jaco Bouwer during the film shoot:

The Countess Pafanesca in the Vodka Tango

When you are excited by the group of artists who have  come together to make theatre, sparks can fly. And that’s exactly what can happen with the first live run of Firefly, a production that was created to celebrate live theatre. DIANE DE BEER speaks to a few of the artists involved:

Theatre fans are blessed with the latest Sylvaine Strike, Andrew Buckland and Toni Morkel collaboration as they bring last year’s Ferine and Ferase (which was filmed by Jaco Bouwer for the Woordfees digital programme) to life on stage – as it was originally planned.

This is the second time this trio have combined their creative talents (the first was in the much lauded Tobacco and the Harmful Effects Thereof) even if the roles have been switched. In the newly named Firefly, Sylvaine and Andrew are acting together with Toni directing for a run at the Baxter Flipside from 24 March to 9 April  at 7.30pm nightly, with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Sylvaine Strike and Andrew Buckland at play.

The initial name was derived from two chemical components luciferin and luciferase, which exist in a firefly’s bum and make it glow, explained Sylvaine. “So one without the other can’t make light, they have to be together to glow. Lots of fireflies in this show.” And that is why it is now called the more familiar Firefly.

The play was first created on commission by head of the Woordfees Saartjie Botha in September 2020, three-quarters of the way through the first tough lockdown. The idea was to create something that would show audiences why theatre is unique and exciting. Saartjie didn’t want a big set, she didn’t want audiovisuals, no multimedia, only pure theatre. “We want body and craft and what the actor is,” was the instruction.

Because of lockdown, they started writing remotely through October, November and December, and in mid-January last year met in a rehearsal room with their director. With Tony Bentel on piano, they began to develop the story on their feet to find a common language between Sylvaine and Andrew, who both have very specific styles. But when this trio are tasked to make theatre, that’s exactly what they do.

It’s all in the telling of the tale.

They discovered and developed a mutual style for the two actors largely based on clowning duos. Think Laurel and Hardy, for example, that kind of world, very much a nostalgic, romantic story where they play three different characters each, with the narrators the main characters called … Ferine and Ferase. They have a backstory of their own, which they tell as travelling players of Bucket’s End. It’s a time of magic and wonder which allows you to sit back, be transported and dream, a luxury in these times.

“It’s beautiful, it’s very physical, it’s gorgeously costumed with each a standard clowning costume that transforms into a couple of things,” Sylvaine embroiders.

Every detail tells a story.

From the start it was meant to play on stage and they had a short trial run with a 45-minute version. But this all had to take on a different hue when live changed to digital and they spread their special brand of fairy dust.

The full play was filmed with Sylvaine enchanted with Jaco’s extraordinary transformation from stage into film, shot in studio, all in black and white, inspired by old movies. And those of us lucky enough to have seen it, agree.

It was delightful to witness how they adopted and adapted for the new medium with all the elements colliding and fusing.

 And now they’re back on stage and it will be marvellous to be experience yet another transformation. Personally, I can’t wait!

Crafting a clutch of characters with craft and creativity.

Sylvaine and Andrew make perfect sense together and then to have the extraordinary Toni Morkel directing is genius.

As she has often been directed by Sylvaine and performed with Andrew, she was terrified yet thrilled when asked but she trusted her instincts because all three of them know one another well and understand each other’s particular theatre language.

“I’m very excited to do it live,” says Toni, who has just started with rehearsals again. These are two actors who know how to act with their whole being and she finds herself smiling as she watches them go through their moves. “I’m living my dream,” says this consummate theatre maker.

The great difference between the screen and stage version is most specifically the sets. The two actors with their costumes and imagination have to construct their world on stage. And while it is sometimes frustrating to remember what they could do on film, the stage version is what they envisioned from the start.

“We wanted to create a play that would travel easily and anywhere – whether we had lights, curtains, even a stage,” she says. And knowing what they have achieved in the past together and individually, this is not an impossible ask. It has always been part of their theatre ethos, and while it might have been initiated by a scarcity of funds, it also focused their imaginations magnificently.

Andrew Buckland and Sylvaine Strike in Firefly.

“I know their world, their physical ability and strength and how they work,” she says about the process. “What we are relying on is good old-fashioned storytelling.”

She does have two more aces up her sleeve with Wolf Britz again making magic with his wondrous lighting and he has a few more tricks in the bag. And there’s Tony Bentel’s wizardry on piano. “I can’t help but gush when speaking of his astonishing ability. He has a world of music in his body,” is how she explains this gifted musician who accompanies the two actors live.

“For any section of the play, he comes up with five or six different musical suggestions and because he is adept with improv, he can embellish what the actors are trying to express at any moment. I am constantly in awe of what he has arranged musically.

“I am blessed,” she says.

And so are we. With these dynamic artists, expect fireworks in Firefly!

Strike is currently receiving great praise for her direction of the modern classic, Kiss of the Spider Woman, currently on stage at The Baxter. (see in another story on the blog)

Presented by the Baxter Theatre and Toyota SU Woordfees, in association with The Fortune Cookie Company, Firefly runs at the Baxter Flipside from 24 March to 9 April 2022. Ticket prices range from R150 (during the week) to R170 (on weekends) and can be bought online through Webtickets or at Pick n Pay stores.

For discounted block or schools booking, charities and fundraisers, contact Carmen Kearns on carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za or call her on 021 680 3993.

THE KLEIN KAROO NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL IS CELEBRATING ITS RETURN WITH DIVERSITY

With Covid-19 still a part of our lives, the uncertainty of live events is constantly hovering. Will it or won’t it? That’s the question on everyone’s mind as each event or festival comes into play. And while dates have to be juggled and last-minute plans put into play, this year’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees has come up with an exceptional programme in any circumstances – but especially now. DIANE DE BEER spotlights some highlights of this year’s KKNK which starts at the end of the month:

I can still remember hearing the news about the first Covid-19 lockdown at the 2020 Woordfees and while all of us were devastated and slightly bewildered, none of us realised quite the impact it would have on our lives – and the arts.

This was to be our last arts festival in a couple of years and the effect of that on the lives of artists who need live audiences has been disastrous.

Nataniël’s Prima Donna opens the festival.

There have been brilliant innovations in the intervening years and the word hybrid will fortunately become part of the festival landscape to broaden their audiences as well as capturing theatre on film for those who cannot attend a festival but would love to see productions.

And yet, nothing will compare with the real thing, which is why the announcement that 2022’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) will be happening from 29 March to 3 April was received with such joy.

Not only are they back, but the programme is something to cherish, especially in these haphazard times where everything has to happen almost on the trot. But as they suggest in their big reveal, “even in its slightly smaller format, the festival acts as a fuse for the explosion of productions and experiences to be presented by heavyweights in the South African arts industry!”

“This year’s festival is truly overflowing with exceptional programming in celebration of the KKNK’s return to Oudtshoorn, while retaining the quality that makes festivalgoers get in their cars and drive to Oudtshoorn annually,” says Hugo Theart, Artistic Director of the KKNK.

He isn’t just boasting  –  two of my personal favourites, Nataniël and director Marthinus Basson, are leading the way with their productions.

Nataniël’s Prima Donna, a debut show, will be opening the festival on Monday evening (March 28) and part of the excitement of the production is that he will sing a bunch of his favourite covers, all of which he has arranged himself. Add to that a collection of his fantastical tales, and those attending will be starting their festival with a bang.

Basson will be presenting two plays, Ek, Anna van Wyk, in memory of, and to honour Pieter Fourie (the first CEO of the KKNK), who recently passed away, starring Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Dawid Minnaar, Albert Pretorius, Carlo Daniels, Wilhelm van der Walt, Geon Nel, Gideon Lombard and René Cloete, and internationally acclaimed playwright Lars Norén’s Terminaal 3 with Anna-Mart van der Merwe, André Roothman, Edwin van der Walt, Carla Smith and Stian Bam. Both will delight festival connoisseurs.

Three iconic female artists further enhance the star line-up with the internationally acclaimed Mary Sibande this year’s Festival Artist and the double celebration of Antoinette Kellermann and Antjie Krog’s 70th birthdays in 2022 with Kellermann creating magic in the words of Krog in die oerkluts kwyt.

The picture tells its own story of Neil Coppen’s storytelling in Op Hierdie Dag

Other new scripts at the festival include Die halwe huis, a one-man show written by Oudtshoorn resident Ricardo Arendse, with another Klein Karoo local, Marlo Minnaar, in the lead, with Lee-Ann van Rooi as director; the promising Agulhasvlakte by young playwright Herschelle Benjamin with Kanya Viljoen as director and Wilhelm van der Walt, René Cloete and Kay Smith on stage; while another Oudtshoorn production Op hierie dag forms part of the KKNK Karoo Kaarte project, which will be the heart of the festival this year, showcasing Oudtshoorn residents’ various talents. Theatre couple Lida Botha and Johan Botha, who have relocated to this region, will be directed by the exciting playwright/director Neil Coppen and visual arts curator and facilitator Vaughn Sadie.

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in Kiss of the Spider Woman. Picture Fiona McPherson

Nêrens Noord-Kaap, following its success on television, returns with Geon Nel, Albert Pretorius, and De Klerk Oelofse; while the Sylvaine Strike production Kiss of the Spiderwoman featuring Wessel Pretorius and Mbulelo Grootboom; Spertyd honouring deceased Elsa Joubert, with the phenomenal Sandra Prinsloo in the lead and the return of Oscar en die pienk tannie, directed by Lara Bye, complete a very strong line-up.

Looking for something unusual, dance enthusiasts can book for Karatara with dance group Figure of 8 – the 2020 KKNK Young Voice Prize recipient, who joins forces with Dean Balie and director Gideon Lombard.

If you’re in the mood for something light, comedies include Transpirant with Bennie Fourie and Schalk Bezuidenhout – who can also be seen in Schalk sing sleg; motormouth Marc Lottering in his stand-up comedy show Uncle Marc; Adriaan Alfred in Adriaan Alfred Live; Lizz Meiring in her solo show Kameras, konserte en kleedkamers; Marion Holm returns with Holmruggery; while Koos Kombuis, Dana Snyman and Erns Grundling, as well as Pietman Geldenhuys and Lyntjie Jaars from the Oppiestoep TV series, entertain audiences with their storytelling ingenuity.

Making music, David Kramer Vanaand, a solo show for Kramer, and Amanda Strydom with Nostalgie are the two evergreen performers who have performed at every KKNK.

Kombuis, Dana Snyman and Erns Grundling, as well as Pietman Geldenhuys and Lyntjie Jaars from the Oppiestoep TV series, entertain audiences with their storytelling originality.

Coenie de Villiers and André Schwartz

Coenie de Villilers and André Schwartz, both on piano, team up for a celebration of their work. Karen Zoid followers will be thrilled that she performs in an acoustic and more intimate show, and Emo Adams and Take Note bring the flavour of Cape Town entertainment to the Klein Karoo.

Six of the country’s well-known guitarists will be together on one stage in Kitaarkonings, with the  gentle muso Louis Mhlanga playing in Afrika Blues.

Another highlight is The Music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with Lynelle Kenned, André Schwartz and the Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra presented on the Celebratio pomegranate farm outside Oudtshoorn, where Spoegwolf 10 Jaar also takes place. Other contemporary shows include Elvis Blue, Luna Paige, Rocco de Villiers, and Anna Davel.

For classical music enthusiasts a special recital of Beethoven and Beyond with the well-known American pianist Gustavo Romero is included on the programme.

Those familiar with the “out of the box” theatre concept will know that this is something to watch. This time it is called Lucky Pakkie Theatre, which means you will be going for a lucky packet stage version of the popular musical chairs game… Be ready for loads of fun. Three Lucky Pakkie packages will cater for all ages, from younger viewers (Melkbaarde) to older viewers (Sagtebaarde), and adult viewers (Hardebaarde). Each mystery round of entertainment will last 15 minutes.

Last but not least is the Visual Arts programme, curated by the innovative Dineke van der Walt, which for example includes the colourful Mapula creations, all of which can be viewed in the familiar  Prince Vincent building.

Joylyn Phillips (second from right) in Bientang also rewarded with Kunste Onbeperk Young Voice award.

The festival has honoured individuals in the industry since its inception, and this year’s four exceptional people include playwright Jolyn Phillips receiving the Kunste Onbeperk Prize for a Young Voice (she can be seen in the debut production Bientang); Nic Barrow, one of the founders of the KKNK and the individual who planted the seed for a festival in Oudtshoorn, is honoured for his contribution to the KKNK; and the ever-popular and exceptional Frank Opperman (to be seen in Ek Wens, ek wens) who is awarded the Kunste Onbeperk Prize for Interpretation.

Frank Opperman in Ek wens, ek wens, also honoured for interpretation with Kunste Onbeperk prize.

Ticket sales are open and accommodation can be booked through LekkeSlaap at www.lekkeslaap.co.za/akkommodasie-naby/kknk, or kknk.co.za/verblyf-lekkeslaap/.

Interested festivalgoers can get more information by subscribing to the KKNK newsletter, following the KKNK on social media, or visiting www.kknk.co.za. Feel free to contact the festival office on 044 203 8600 or send a WhatsApp message to 065 285 2337.

The KKNK will follow a vaccination mandate, but terms and conditions for exclusions apply. More information is available at www.kknk.co.za.

SYLVAINE STRIKE REIMAGINES KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, A STORY SHE HOLDS DEAR

PICTURES: Fiona McPherson

Togetherness.

Returning to the theatre after such barren and isolated times with Kiss of the Spider Woman  ̶  to spark conversation is a great gift, Sylvaine Strike tells DIANE DE BEER. It has been a troubled ride for the proposed run of this play which was cancelled on the eve of their opening in June 2021 when the 3rd wave of Covid hit. But now they’re ready to go with a run at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre until March 26:

“It felt so terribly hard to abandon the work when we were closed down,”  says director Sylvaine Strike.

In full-blown artist mode she expands: “It felt deadly. Where does one put all the adrenalin, all the emotive impulses so necessary to tell this story in all its noble truth? My heart broke for my actors who were about to fly. Hibernation of the artistic soul has been one of the most challenging realities we have had to face as live performers,” she explains.

But now, just short of a year, they’re back again to hopefully complete a run. Kiss of the Spider Woman is a story she has always wanted to tell. “It is first and foremost, an inmate and delicate study of human behaviour. It is a testimony to our ability to escape our reality through the imagination, a triumph in the battle to defeat prejudice; it is a poem about learning to love all that one hates about oneself, all that one fears in the other; it is about accepting difference through tenderness.”

Embracing what is too often labelled as other has become crucial, urgent, she argues and she simply loved the humanity of the work.

Ironically she had been booked to direct Kiss at the Baxter in mid-2019, long before Covid became a reality. “I am often asked if I chose this piece because of the pandemic since it speaks of confinement, seeking escape though retelling of stories from the silver screen (think of what Netflix meant to us all during this confinement!) but ultimately it is also a play about isolation from society.

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in Kiss of the Spider Woman

“It is in fact Covid that helped me understand this piece on a cellular level, our human need for contact, for connection, for escapism, for understanding.”

Discussing her casting, she notes that our immediate assumption as South Africans, when we see a black Xhosa male (Mbulelo Grootboom) and white Afrikaans male (Wessel Pretorius) sharing a prison cell, is likely that this story will be about racial tension.

So to her mind, it seemed crucial to shatter this preconception and challenge viewers to engage with the piece on a very different level.

“As humans we are so quick to other in so many ways. Wessel and Mbulelo are both remarkably in touch with who they are as men, embracing both the positive and negative aspects of their masculine and feminine halves, and highlighting the necessity for Valentin and Molina’s story to be shared with all audiences, guarding in turn against prejudice, sexual preference or political ideology.

“Ultimately, this story is about survival, betrayal, regret and our need for connection. Whatever preconception audiences may have will gently be turned on its head,” she predicts.

“The playwright Manuel Puig had staggering courage for his time. I hope that we too have shown courage in this rendition, exactly 50 years after it was penned, it is very much a classic of gay literature  ̶  but we hope to contribute to it being seen as a great classic  ̶  eternally relevant to human nature.”

Fantasy at Play.

Design has always played a huge role in her productions and collaborating with Wolf Britz was a real treat.

“We both agreed that we needed to set it somewhere neutral,  that it could be a prison cell anywhere as the location of Buenos Aires Argentina is never referred to by the characters. This enabled us to build on the theme of imprisonment as a metaphor of the mind, while also being a very literal prison.

“We researched Argentinian prisons, and Wolf was inspired to thread colours, textures and the feel of the them into the fabric of the piece. I really wanted to get a sense of the cell being one of many, positioned above a cell and below another, with only wrought iron grids separating them. I wanted the characters to be lit from below and above too, through these grids,” she explains.

As with all her work, she wanted the actors to be rehearsing on the set – a very small restricted square, with an oppressively low ceiling above it- from as early as possible in the process. She knew that by the time they had mastered their space it would feel huge. And that is what happened.

She details thus: “Molina sets up home, plays housewife, remembers movies; Valentin reads, studies Marx, pines for his girlfriend while their lives intersect and become entangled on levels they never dreamed were possible.”

Lighting design also took on huge significance. “Light plays a huge part in confined spaces like prisons,” she notes. “Time is indicated through natural and synthetic light. Mannie Manim has evoked both perfectly with his wizardry,” she says.

The serious side of play.

In conclusion she stresses that gender politics are a necessary conversation in our times, more so than ever in societies that are seeking to be inclusive and illuminated.

“Returning to the theatre after such barren and isolated times with Kiss to spark conversation is a great gift, I believe. We cannot wait to share the sacred ritual of the collective experience with our audiences once again. This is our place of worship. It is here that it all makes sense.”

And as if this Kiss season isn’t enough, she will also be at The Baxter together with Andrew Buckland in the stage version of Ferine and Ferase titled Firefly from March 24 until April .

The play runs nightly from Mondays to Saturdays starting at 7.30pm; with matinées on Saturdays at 2.30pm.  Bookings at Webticket.

Those attending this year’s Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) from 29 March to 3 April, will also have the opportunity to catch the play there.

JM COETZEE’S LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K IS A STORY THAT RESONATES

PICTURES: Fiona McPherson

Craig Leo and Carlo Daniels in Life and Times of Michael K

DIANE DE BEER

JM COETZEE’S LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K

ADAPTED AND DIRECTED by Lara Foot

CAST: Sandra Prinsloo, Andrew Buckland, Faniswa Yisa, Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam, Carlo Daniels, Marty Kintu, Billy Langa and Nolufefe Ntshuntshe with the Handspring Puppet Company

CO-PRODUCTION: Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Germany) and Baxter Theatre

SET DESIGN: Patrick Curtis

LIGHTING DESIGN: Joshua Cutts

ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION: Kyle Shephard

DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM: Fiona McPherson and Barrett de Kock

VIDEOGRAPHY AND EDITING: Yoav Dagan

PROJECTION DESIGN: Kirsti Cumming

COSTUMES: Phyllis Midlane

 SOUND DESIGN: Simon Kohler

VENUE: Baxter Theatre

DATES AND TIMES:  7pm nightly until 19 March with Saturday matinees at 2pm on 5, 12 and 19 March

Craig Leo, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, Carlo Daniels, Faniswa Yisa, Billy Langa in Life and Times of Michael K

It is quite astonishing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the backdrop on most minds, how the horror in JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K is amplified.

Written in 1983 in Coetzee’s sparse yet startling style, the story shines a powerful light on the life of a simple man, afflicted by a disfigurement, standing out without being someone, and being in the world not to engage, but rather flee from others.

That’s where he finds his freedom – in the wild, desolate landscape of a country that doesn’t want him and yet pursues him for crimes not committed or even imagined.

Both Michael K and his mother have lived honourable lives in service of others, he as a gardener and she as a domestic worker who lives under the stairs in an apartment block, like her son, unseen and unheard.

When she falls ill, with war raging around them, she turns to her son to take her “home”, there where she was born and raised, where she believes she once found happiness. And so their harrowing journey begins.

Sandra Prinsloo, Faniswa Yisa, Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam in Life and Times Of Micheal K

Because of where we find ourselves right now, and looking back through the history of these past 30 years, both nationally and internationally, Michael K’s story hasn’t changed. That’s why it is such a brilliant choice to herald what we are hoping beyond hope, might be better times.

There was a buzzy anticipation on opening night as people moved into the Baxter Theatre for the Lara Foot-adapted and -directed Life and Times of Michael K, a production cleverly staged with the Handspring Puppet Company in a multi-dimensional fashion including performance, film and music – all on a grand scale.

And with a magnificent set which constantly changes with moving as well as still images and lighting that astounds, we’re off into the story and running with the narrative from the start. It’s quite overwhelming as Michael K’s story is told from many different angles and voices with different landscapes as he goes on his long and winding journey. Visually it is spectacular and achieves a moving world that is both elaborate and evocative.

Telling the story, there’s an ensemble playing different characters; the physical Michael K, exquisitely crafted by the Handspring masters happily accompanied by his equally statured mother; the voices and puppeteers; as well as the film, which simply because of scale could be jarring at times rather than just slipping in and out of the narrative – yet all of these combined make it quite difficult to get to the beating heart of the story.

Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, Craig Leo, Carlo Daniels, Roshina Ratnam and Andrew Buckland in Life and Times of Michael K

As the name suggests, this is Michael K’s story. While the character himself can be seen as an insignificant man, that is the point and what Coetzee hopes to uncover in his desolate and desperately haunting tale of a man who is struggling to find and cling to his freedom. Gardening is what moves his world, something that adds rather than detracts from our physical place on this earth.

But even that is not good enough. Somehow it is twisted into an act of terrorism as he is accused of feeding a guerrilla army. He is simply never allowed to be.

Coetzee’s descriptive and detailed telling of Michael K’s battle to survive on this arid land, the way he works with the earth to both feed the soil and his soul, nourishing his freedom, his sole means of survival, doesn’t quite have the impact on stage as it does on the page. The exquisite existential rendering which won Coetzee such applause is somehow missed.

His is a harsh world in which there is mistrust all round. Who is Michael K? Even though he is described as someone who cannot organise a dart game, he is still seen as a threat by those who feel they are in command and have to lead the way.

No one can be left to their own devices. And it is this stranglehold, a man’s desperate struggle to hold on to his freedom, that disappears under the weight of the production, one where the true horror of being Michael K struggles to break through.

Foot has thrown all her energy and skill into this one and there are many memorable moments to witness and remember. It is a worthy production that captures the zeitgeist – a time of pandemics and panicked, power-driven presidents.

What you don’t get is the bewilderment of a man who has found himself in a world that prohibits him from finding his own way and making a life unaffected by those around him. The only way he knows how to breathe and survive.

Thát is the life and times of Michael K.

WRITING IS AUTHOR ERIKA MURRAY-THERON’S SOLACE WHEN MAKING SENSE OF HER LIFE

When Erika Murray-Theron started writing about her life following the Parkinson’s diagnosis of her husband Tom, she couldn’t predict that capturing her thoughts on paper would be her way of coping. Yet writing became her solace and eventually a book titled  Kom Ons Loop Weg (Protea Boekhuis), which she hopes might shed some light for others struggling with debilitating disease. She talks to DIANE DE BEER:

It says everything about author Erika Murray-Theron when she tells you with a twinkle in her eye: “In one year I turned 80, got married, had a knee replacement and launched this book.”

Published by  Protea Boekhuis, the front cover also explains that this is her and her first husband’s journey with Parkinson’s disease.

It all started in 2001 when Erika’s husband Tom was diagnosed. Initially once they were fully immersed in the illness and coping with its progression, Erika started a file on her computer but it was simply meant for her eyes. As someone who had always kept a diary on her life (until her family with five children took over), she knew she needed somewhere she could gather her thoughts and make sense of all the changes they were confronted with on a daily basis.

From the beginning, the onslaught on what had been their life was quite overwhelming, but as one does in these circumstances, you deal and cope. When Tom’s mind was still unaffected, they could make decisions together but eventually, Erika really had to take charge and, as so often with his particular diagnosis, she had to  handle everything with great care when dealing with Tom.

Part of Parkinson’s symptoms can be fears of abandonment, and reality for the couple soon became a very individual experience.

The book deals mostly with the last three years of Tom’s life, which because of the degeneration, were also the most difficult. For Erika it wasn’t just the decisions about where and when to move, how to physically manage their lives, but also to bear such constant and intimate knowledge of Tom’s decline.

Theirs had been a fulfilling marriage and what she was witnessing was the dismantling and slow disintegration of both the physical and intellectual beings of her life partner. And with that comes the loss, which is a slow and debilitating process for both, the one suffering and the carer.

This wasn’t a time to think, she had to do. But she is a writer and from as young as five, she would tell herself stories and end sentences with “she said!”, as though writing a story. “I don’t know where that came from,” explains Erika, and even though she started writing books at a relatively late stage, storytelling has always been a part of her being.

Writing is how she makes sense of things and, during Tom’s illness, it helped her make sense of her feelings and her understanding of what was happening.

She hates being viewed as a victim or as someone who wallows in misery, and given what she had to deal with, not languishing in those emotional places is tough. But with Tom the priority, she managed with the help of her children and friends to cope.

That’s where and why the book became important. Once she caught her breath following her husband’s death in 2014, she knew she had to revisit these last years of their life together – that as well as nurture the memories of happier and easier times.

Erika Murray-Theron.

She had been caught unawares by the deep loss she felt with Tom’s passing away, especially following the struggles of the last years. That also meant that she hadn’t yet mourned the loss even though it had been such a part of her life even before his death. “I knew I had to deal with all of that,” she explains. Now she had time to step back, return to her notes to gather her thoughts of what their life had been.

When she started thinking about writing a book, she was driven by the feeling that her experience could benefit others.

But this also meant more exposure, the one aspect of being an author that doesn’t appeal to Erika. “I am a very accessible person but I don’t like being out there,” is how she explains it.

But telling this story she believed she had to be truthful and honest about their lives, especially the last years that were so tough. It also meant that she had to discuss  this opening up so publicly with her children.

They are a tightknit family, some more private than others, and this was her and Tom’s story and where she was going to concentrate. And even though the book is extraordinary and something Erika doesn’t regret, the publicity surrounding it has been difficult for her. “Many people only see my plight rather than the extraordinary journey,” she says.

What she has done with telling her story, one that no one really wishes on anyone, is to show the resilience of human beings. How we stand up and get going when life is unexpectedly tough. For her it was about finding the meaning and making sense of it as she was gathering her notes and her thoughts to finish the book.

She contacted the editor of her last book at Protea Publishers, Kristèl de Weerd, and gave her the notes which she had already sorted into some kind of order. Writing and the process is something Erika enjoys and especially the final reworking and editing. “I can sit for hours adjusting one paragraph,” she confesses.

That is why the book is such a revelation. When keeping notes, Erika is someone who has depth and detail in the palm of her hand. The title KOM ONS LOOP WEG (loosely translated as Let’s run away) comes from a moment in time when Tom said to her quite unexpectedly and lucidly: “I miss you … I hunger for you… Let’s run away…”

Gideon and Erika

And still her story isn’t completed and if there are any tears to be shed, perhaps this happy note will do it.

Following Tom’s death, a close friend of theirs, Gideon, also lost his wife. He turned to Erika for some help with things he had to sort through – and, she says, she immediately knew that this friendship was going to develop into something different and deeper. Today she is taking a timeout from writing and the newly-weds are making the best of their time together.

For those of us looking on, it feels as if they were blessed with a special gift.

THE TENTH SILWERSKERM FILM FESTIVAL IS ALL ABOUT CELEBRATING THE LOVE FOR LOCAL MOVIES

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Silwerskerm Film Festival, kykNET has released the names of a slate of local films lined up for a brand-new hybrid format between 23 and 26 March 2022.

Pictures of features apart from previous winner Poppie Nongena are all part of this year’s competition.

Stiekyt deals with an actor who performs at a drag club and is discovered by his wife.
https://youtu.be/GsCs1vo5_Ns

Since all the events on the main programme will take place simultaneously at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay and the Silwerskerm Film Festival website, movie lovers from across the country can now sign up to enjoy the festival from the comfort of their homes. (See details below and check for details on the movies on the Silwerskerm website: https://silwerskermfees.co.za/)

Included are nine local feature films in competition for the festival’s prestigious awards and 17 short films produced with the financial support of kykNET and the festival.

Besides these exciting films, guests and those attending virtually will also have access to Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, industry discussions and some existing local films that have received limited releases in the past two years.

DIANE DE BEER chats to Ricky Human (centre), programme director who together with its founder Karen Meiring (right) and director M-Net channels Jan du Plessis (left), has been with the Silwerskerm Film Festival from the start:

In 2010 the kykNET Silwerskerm Film Festival started as a dream to establish a local film festival and a vision to create a platform for their own storytellers to showcase their work to each other, to develop young filmmakers and to discover new voices in the local film industry.

“We often look back fondly at how the festival started with only one feature film, ‘n Saak van Geloof and an exciting short film competition,” notes Ricky Human, programming director.  

https://youtu.be/hOICLDW-I80

“We believed that we could establish a festival incubator program for passionate young filmmakers to develop their own stories with the guidance and the financial support needed to start their careers in the local film industry.”

“Ten years later, some of the most passionate and brightest young filmmakers have emerged through the ranks of the short film competition and more than 160 short films and a variety of feature-length films with the funding and support from kykNET and M-Net Movies were launched. Young talent from 10 years ago are now established producers, directors and scriptwriters,” she says proudly.

In this time, the festival has also become a successful networking event and continuous exposure to key role players in the industry, from new to established, as well as veteran filmmakers has led to a revival in the local film industry with a focus to increase the level of production.

It further had the effect that authentic South African films set in the Cape flats, different cultures and new story idea planted at this festival is leading a wave of transformation in the Afrikaans film industry with new audience growth and more job opportunities.

The occult is centre stage in Gaia which tells the story of two off-the-grid men who come to a forester’s aid.

https://youtu.be/Q9HYegwSw1s

 As the festival developed in the latter years, and with the 10th anniversary in mind, a big focus became a renewed festival to not only harness all the elements that made it successful, but to expand the programme to be more inclusive of a variety of film genres. This would include public participation and growing the networking and film market element to sustain growth for the next 10 years.

 “We launched an on-line app last year, new competition categories for script writing and digitally produced content. We also welcomed international guest speakers who are experts in their field to share their industry knowledge,” she expanded. They also have big dreams of international collaborations.

 https://youtu.be/r-4WmEoxD8Q

In most international markets its mostly the big blockbusters and large scale independent films that are able to secure a standard theatrical release in cinemas. Distributors and cinema owners worldwide negotiate a film’s release based on potential box office results versus the cost to releasing the film in cinemas.

It has always been a risqué platform with no real guarantees on box office returns, and with many new entertainment options for audiences worldwide, it is a harsh reality that most filmmakers need to take on board when releasing their films in cinemas.

 And then Covid also moved into the mix with the future still uncertain. The motion picture industry, which relied on cinema attendances came to a halt.

Yet the Silwerskerm Film Festival has boosted the local film and television industry and there are many success stories. The short film and Silwerkerm alumni list is growing on an annual basis

Scenes from the extraordinary Poppie Nongena

Probably the most successful has been former stage director Christiaan Olwagen who directed Poppie Nongena, winner for Best Film, Best Script, Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast at the last live event at the 2019 festival.

In 2013, he made his debut with the short film Toevlug which won Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Short Film and landed him a 3-picture deal with M-Net Movies.

His first feature film in 2016, Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie scooped seven awards at Silwerskerm Film Festival including Best Director and Best Film. In 2018, Kanarie won five awards including Best Film and Best Director and went on to be a local and international LGBTQ sensation.

Racheltjie de Beer which won Best Production Design and Best Actor awards in 2019 was written, directed and co-produced by Matthys Boshoff, who made his debut with the short film Vlees van my Vlees which won Best Director and Best Short Film in 2016.

Beurtkrag tells the story of the darkness to be found and explored in relationships.

https://youtu.be/7cp9WqmNgi4

In 2015, Stian Smith won Best Script for the short film, Beurtkrag which was adapted for stage by Jozua Malherbe and features in the main competition this year as a full-length feature film.

Similarly another short film entry for the 2014 competition, Vuil Wasgoed led to Bouwer Bosch forming his own production company and producing the feature-length film version, whilst the writer Bennie Fourie contributed to popular television series Sterlopers and Hotel. Fourie and his fellow writer Stian Smith also won SAFTAs for their work in the local industry.

Another fabulous success story is that of Gambit Films, the production house which entered the short film, Nommer 37 with director, writer, producer Nosipho Dumisa winning the 2014 Best Director and Best Script awards.

They received further funding from M-Net Movies and Dumisa followed with the full-length feature version to critical acclaim locally and internationally.

When money comes into play families can be split apart as is shown in Down So Long.

Through networks created, inexperienced producers also meet their veteran counterparts, and in this instance, with the support and guidance of Homebrew Films, the Gambit creative team also became involved in other television projects for kykNET an kykNET& kie.

This lead to the development of the popular Suidooster soap, for which they formed Atlantic studio. This studio has subsequently created numerous jobs and opportunities for the Western Cape film community.

And the accolades run on and on.

For the future, they are hoping to embrace a fully inclusive festival with more and more expansive opportunities for film and documentary makers. Viva la movies! We all stand to gain and benefit as our local stories are told by people who lived them.

The registration fee for the virtual festival and four days of premium local movie entertainment – is R190 and will be donated to the Tribuo Fund, which was created to assist entertainers suffering a loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To register for the virtual festival, go to the Silwerskerm Film Festival website – silwerskermfees.co.za