Simply stunning_ by gyvwpsjkko


									                                                    issue 2               24th June 2007

Simply stunning!
“It’s a very humble little film,” said Darryl Roodt in his characteristically self-depre-
cating way, at the world premiere of Meisie, on DIFF 2007’s opening night. Humble
the film may be, but short on impact it is not. It has a formal simplicity verging
on grandeur, entirely consistent with the landscape in which it is set. It is a plain,
universal story, told without embellishment and with the utmost purity of motive.
NAZAREEN EBRAHIM spent some time with Roodt, talking about Meisie and
his other projects.
Filmed in Afrikaans with English
subtitles, Meisie tells the story of
a young girl who lives with her
father and tends his goats in the
bleak hills of Riemvasmaak on the
edge of the Kalahari. Gifted with
mathematical ability, she is forbid-
den by her father from attending
the local school, until Miss Es-                                                                                        DIRECTOR: Darryl Roodt
merelda September, a committed
young teacher from Cape Town,                                                                                          the way she was able to engage
comes to teach in the village.                                                                                         with the first-time actors and weave
The story unfolds virtually with-                                                                                      this exchange into the narrative.
out incident, the confrontations                                                                                          The production is notable for its
are mild, the dialogue is sparse,                                                                                      simplicity. The budget was minis-
and the pace of the film is very                                                                                       cule, and only two cameras were
slow. In many ways, it is similar to                                                                                   used. Roodt has strong reasons for
Yesterday, the award-winning film                                                                                      working in this way. “A common
that opened DIFF 2005.                                                                                                 complaint amongst filmmakers
                                                                                                                       is that it’s difficult to make films
                                                                                                                       with little or nothing. I was trying
AN EXTRAORDINARY PLACE                                                                                                 to prove that you can make films
The idea for Meisie came about,                                                                                        from nothing. If you go out there
says Roodt with a mischievous                                                                                          and really believe in your story,
chuckle, “just as Faith’s Corner beat                                                                                  it doesn’t matter if you have a
Tsotsi at the Apollo film Festival”.                                                                                   crappy camera that you’re shoot-
He had been driving through the                                                                                        ing on – it should transcend that
Kalahari, and had come upon                                                                                            and captivate audiences. Despite
Riemvasmaak, which he thought                                                                                          the quality issues, the audience
to be an extraordinary place. “I                                                                                       was still very much engaged. It is
saw a young girl in the hills and
                                        CHILD STAR: Abrina Bosman, the star of Meisie with her mother,
                                                                                                                       a very tiny little film. But it’s got a
thought ‘Why isn’t she in school?’”
                                        Naomie Bosman, at the DIFF 2007 opening event.
                                                                                                                       nice heart’.
Roodt carried the image of the lit-                                                                                       Is Roodt moving away from
                                        film’s title role was immediately       into a stark, bare reality where the
tle girl in a desolate landscape with                                                                                  major projects to concentrate ex-
                                        cast. The casting of non-actors         elements of beauty, hope and gen-
him back to Johannesburg, where                                                                                        clusively on small films about real
                                        powered the simplicity of the film.     ius are held in balance.
shared it with the film’s producer,                                                                                    people? “No. I’d like to do one
                                        Says Roodt: “If you give non-actors
Dione Kempen, who immediately                                                                                          normal movie a year and then
                                        a screenplay to read, it is very dif-
saw its value.
                                        ficult for them to make that scene      A NICE HEART                           three of these at the same time”.
   A trip to Riemvasmaak followed,                                                The only lead actor in the film         Meisie is not the only Roodt
                                        real. Instead, all I did was discuss
during which Kempen and Roodt                                                   was Renate Stuurman, who plays         product at DIFF this year. He is
                                        the scenes and their implications
consulted the local community                                                   the teacher from Cape Town,            also screening Prey, a comedy
                                        with the cast, and then let them go
on the idea. Their wanderings led                                               Esmerelda September. “She blew         horror flick set in a game park. “I
                                        with it”. And go with it they did.
them to the home of the Bosman                                                  me away”, says Roodt, describing       love horror,” he says. “It’s a film
                                        Their construction of the narrative
family, where they discovered the                                               her initial apprehension at working    that plays with the genre I love
                                        and the sparse, unscripted dialogue
angelic Abrina Bosman, and the                                                  with non-actors, and admiration at     the most”.
                                        that resulted draws the audience
                                                                                                                          And some final tips for aspir-
                                                                                                                       ant filmmakers? “It doesn’t matter
                                                                                                                       what camera you have. Just get out
  INSIDE: • WAVESCAPES • WEIRDEST FILM AT THE FESTIVAL                                                                 there and tell your story!”

REEL TIMES                                                                                                                                                  
There are great opportunities for young up-coming
filmmakers in South Africa at the moment, and
Durban’s NIKKI COMNINOS is one young director who
is really...

Making it happen
“The SABC is a very political en-
vironment at the moment,” says
Nikki Comninos, choosing her
words carefully. “I guess it’s be-
cause they feel they have such a
large responsibility, that they tend
to be conservative rather than pro-
vocative. Topics like virginity test-
ing – the subject of my new film
– have to be handled very sensi-
tively. If a provocative issue is pre-                                            The History of Cato Manor: 25 SNEDDON 18H00; 30 CATO 11H00.
sented, they tend to buffer it with
debates and contextualisation.
While I can understand the need                                                 Armed women challenge the police in Cato Manor, in this 1959
to do this, it does have the effect of                                          historic photo, one of many in the well-researched documentary,
flag-posting provocative material.”                                             Contested Past, Pivotal Future, directed by Nikki Comninos and
   This kind of straight talking is                                             produced by Vuleka Productions.
typical of Comninos, director of
The History of Cato Manor, a four-                                                                                           “My advice to aspiring film-
                                                                                a film for eTV entitled Z is for Zulu,   makers would be to look at the
part documentary series produced         Nikki Comninos on location with        filmed in a tourist-orientated Zulu      on the SABC or eTV web sites, or
by Vuleka Productions in collabo-
                                         cameraman S’Fiso Mavundla              ‘cultural village’.                      at Screen Africa magazine, where
ration with the eThekwini munici-
pality’s heritage department. The                                                                                        requests for proposals are posted.
series chronicles the history of         ist household with a strong media      OPPORTUNITIES                            This is a great starting point. First
Durban’s Cato Manor area from            orientation. Moving back to South                                               you have to make it onto the short
                                                                                   “SABC are providing good op-
the early days through the turbu-        Africa with her family in the mid-                                              list, then you get a chance to pitch
                                                                                portunities at the moment,” says
lent 1950s and the era of forced         90s, she gravitated automatically                                               your proposal. Sometimes they
                                                                                Comninos. “We have a lot going
removals to its regeneration as a        to film, which she studied at UCT                                               are just looking for a director, but
                                                                                for us, compared to young direc-
presidential urban renewal project       to honours level, before relocat-                                               sometimes you have to find a pro-
                                                                                tors in other countries. In the USA,
over the last decade. The film is        ing to Johannesburg where she                                                   duction company to partner you
                                                                                for instance, you simply wouldn’t
narrated by Madoda Ncayiyana,            is busy with her MA in Film and                                                 – someone with whom you can
                                                                                have these chances to move ahead
whose own family was forcibly re-        TV at Wits University. Her next                                                 integrate your ideas without com-
                                                                                and learn the ropes so quickly.”
moved from Cato Manor (known             project to be screened is Do Girls                                              promising them too much.”
                                                                                But the high rate of throughput
colloquially as uMkhumbane) to           want It?, a film made for the En-                                                   When talking about her own
                                                                                also has its downside: “Limited
Kwa Mashu.                               counters documentary film festi-                                                career, Nikki’s confidence shines
                                                                                budgets and time constraints have
   One of the youngest direc-            val, commissioned by the “Urban                                                 through. “I want to finish my MA
                                                                                led to a certain kind of documen-
tors at DIFF this year, Nikki was        Explorers” project, in collaboration                                            and then move more into more
                                                                                tary, which is generally charac-
brought up in Harare in an activ-        with SABC1. She is also busy with                                               avant garde filmmaking, rather
                                                                                ter driven and fairly superficial.
                                                                                                                         than the content-driven material
                                                                                                                         I’ve been working with so far,” she
                    AN INSPIRING MUSICAL JOURNEY                                                                         says. And she wants to challenge
                                                                                                                         the prevailing gender imbalance
                                                                                                                         in the industry: “Although the up-
Music is a key theme at DIFF                                                    with blind pianist and composer
                                                                                                                         coming directors are still mostly
007, and the extraordinary                                                     Moncef Genoud, Ndour begins his
                                                                                                                         men, things are changing. The six
Youssou N’Dour: Return to Goree,                                                search in Atlanta, USA, amongst a
                                                                                                                         films chosen for this year’s “Urban
sets the tone for a deep explo-                                                 group of renowned gospel sing-
                                                                                                                         Explorers” project are all made by
ration of the role and meaning                                                  ers, then hooks up with legendary
                                                                                                                         women.” These films bring a femi-
of music in the history of our                                                  jazz drummer Idris Muhammad
                                                                                                                         nine perspective to subjects like
struggle, and the struggle to                                                   in New Orleans, and then passes
                                                                                                                         BEE, breasts, hip hop, street poetry
reclaim our history.                                                            through New York, Bordeaux
                                                                                                                         and the urban working life. Nikki’s
                                                                                and Luxembourg, adding musi-
                                                                                                                         film, Do Girls Want It?, looks at vir-
                                                                                cians to his travelling band as he
                                                                                                                         ginity testing from the perspective
UNIQUE VOICE                                                                    goes along.
                                                                                                                         of three young women – a mem-
   Senegal’s N’Dour is one of the                                                  The group finally perform on
                                                                                                                         ber of the “True Love Waits” cam-
greatest of contemporary African                                                the island of Goree, at the Goree
                                                                                                                         paign, a girl who has undergone
musicians and his unique voice is                                               Institute, a commemorative mu-
                                                                                                                         virginity testing, and a girl who
instantly recognisable, as are the                                              seum focusing on slavery in Africa.
                                                                                                                         is responsible for negotiating her
polyphonic West African rhythms                                                 Their interactions with the vener-
                                                                                                                         own sexuality.
in which his music is grounded.                                                 able curator of the centre, who
In this film, he sets out on a mu-                                              is monumentally moved by the
sical pilgrimage to trace the line-                                             gospel voices, are the stuff of leg-
                                                                                                                          WRONG NUMBER: In our last issue
age of African music, beginning                                                 end. This is truly a remarkable and
with its exportation to the West                                                sublime film that will hopefully be        the wrong number was given for
during the slavery era, and follow-                                             shown mare widely so that it can         Vuleka Productions. Young filmmakers
ing its subsequent evolution into                                               reach far more people than the           looking for local opportunities should
global musical forms such as jazz                                               few who were privileged to be at            phone Vuleka on 031 2619650.
and gospel. Literally hand-in-hand                                              the two DIFF showings.

                                                                                                                                             REEL TIMES

Living the dream,
talking the talk
Now into its third year at DIFF, the Wavescapes Surf
Film Festival will be packing the Kwasuka Theatre with
pros, vets, grommets and kooks, all looking for one
thing: the vicarious thrill of riding the perfect wave.
What does it feel like to be deep        and help the general public under-
inside a gleaming translucent tube       stand just how incredibly cool and
in some remote ocean thousands           sexy it is to be a surfer, and, by
of miles from home, wearing noth-        implication, how much non-surfers       TOO SEXY FOR WORDS: A surfer “strokes the lip” before getting
ing but a pair of branded baggies        are missing out on.                     “deeply tubed” at J-Bay.
and a big grin on your face? We
tried our best to ask Wavescapes’
ebullient impresario, Steve Pike,
                                         CULTURE OF ENVY
known to the surfing commu-              The entire culture is based on envy.
nity simply as Spike, but he had         When surfers arrive at the beach to
gone surfing.                            check the waves, they are invari-
   “Hey Bru, the surf is cookeee-        ably greeted with the stock phrase:
ing!!!” enthused Spike over a cell-      “You shoulda been here yester-
phone muffled by the surrounding         day!” – or earlier this morning, or
mountains and punding surf, when         even half an hour ago. The surf is
we finally got hold of him. He was       never as good as it was when you
somewhere on the Cape Penin-             weren’t there. And this is why we
sula, having just emerged from           have surf films. So we can envy
an “epic session” during which he        all those impossibly cool bronzed
was dumped by a huge wave, lost          muscly dudes on those insane surf
his board, had to swim hundreds          odysseys to places you’ve never
of metres back to shore through          heard of.
the kelp (luckily not meeting any           So get down to Kwasuka, say
great white sharks on the way) and       howzit to the bru’s, bra’s and bro’s,   INDONESIAN LUNCHBREAK: Wavescapes’ Steve Pike (Spike) takes
clamber over a dangerous shelf of        and get fully stoked, Dude!             time out from his arduous day job as a surf forecaster and surf film
                                         Andy Mason
rocks back to terra firma, where it                                              impresario.
would take him at least 40 minutes
to thaw out. The experience had
left him full of the joyful feeling
                                                 TAXIDERMIA: IT’S ODD, BUT YOU’LL LIKE IT
that surfers describe as being “fully
stoked, bra!”
                                         26 SNEDDON 22HOO

SURFING LINGO                            Taxidermia is being touted
In surfing lingo, everyone, irre-        as the weirdest film at the
spective of their gender, is either      festival. ROSA LYSTER went
“bra”, “bru” or “bro” (although
                                         along to find out what the
“dude” is also acceptable in certain
circumstances). It is a language         fuss is all about.
overflowing with bizarre adjectives
and suffused with sexual puns.           Taxidermia will give you the
Wine writers, who are infamous           creeps. But in a good way.
for garlicky metaphors, could take       Hungarian with English subti-
a few hints from surf writers when       tles, filmed in 2006, it’s being
it comes to abusing the English          touted as the most bizarre film
language. Hence the strange lin-         at this year’s festival. So if you’re
gua franca, which can only be de-        looking for general weirdness,          speed-eating became an interna-        of Hungary, its journey from a
scribed as “Surferese”, that litters     Taxidermia is your guy. But there’s     tionally recognized sport? How         communist country to a demo-
the synopses in the Wavescapes           more to it than that: it’s kind of      does one train for such a thing?       cratic one, without ever feeling
section of the DIFF programme            gross. Do not eat before this           What actually is speed-eating?         the need to grind any political
and catalogue.                           movie. Or during. Or after. This           The movie is divided into three     axe. Taxidermia can be viewed
   When Spike instructs you to           is not a date movie (although it        separate parts. Each part will         as an allegory for the social and
“drink in the sickest, deepest pits in   should be). But still there’s more:     make you lean over to the person       political changes that took place
wild, wanton gulps” he is not refer-     It’s also clever and funny and          next to you and say things like        in Hungary, or it can be viewed
ring to some suicidal sexual ritual,     beautifully filmed. It has cool         “Is that his ear?”, “Why is there      as probably the only chance you
but to the simple act of watching a      Eastern Europeans in it, doing          a pig’s tail…”, “Oh, I get it. Oh.     will ever get to watch someone
surfer get tubed on film. And when       cool Eastern European enigmatic         Wow. That’s odd”. It’s fun. Each       ejaculate fire. The cinematogra-
he asks you to “bask” in “an intra-      things. It contains the answers         part is connected to the previous      phy is quietly spectacular and the
venous overdose of chiaroscuro”          to those oft-repeated questions:        one, each part builds on the last.     script is witty and dark. Taxidermia:
he is not suggesting that you inject     what did speed-eaters do before         In a strange way, it tells the story   it’s odd, but you’ll like it.
oil paint into your veins. No, these
are the kinds of phrases that surf-         For more details about the films on offer, consult the DIFF programme and catalogue, and for
ers have to resort to in order to try                           the serious festival goer, there is always the Internet!

REEL TIMES                                                                                                                                                  
                 PHOTOS BY MONICA RORVIK

SHERYL KUNAKA                                                  AND PARTHO SEN-GUPTA



                                                                                 REEL TIMES IS EDITED AND PRODUCED FOR THE
                                                                                    DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
                                                                                         (031-2602506 or
                                                                                     BY    ARTWORKS COMMUNICATIONS.
                                                                                           EDITED BY ANDY MASON -
                                                                           TEL: 031 303 6466
                                                                                       NAZAREEN EBRAHIM, ROSA LYSTER
                                                                                            LAYOUT BY SAM BALOYI


                                                                                                                 REEL TIMES

To top