Racheltjie de Beer film in development


A feature film on South African Voortrekker heroine Racheltjie De Beer is currently in development by filmmaker Brett Michael Innes.

The well-known fable tells of a girl and her younger brother who got lost in a snow storm while looking for a beloved calf. According to the tale, Racheltjie died protecting her brother from the cold.

“The story was one that was taught to us in primary school and I always remember it making a big impression on me as a child,’ explains Innes. “While at film school I remembered the story and something just clicked in me. The visuals and emotions the story conjured up were vivid and it felt like it would set the platform for the kind of movie I would like to make. The thing that surprised me the most is that it hasn’t been made already.’

Innes graduated from AFDA in 2005 and The Story of Racheltjie de Beer / Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer will be his first feature film.

He explains that the story will not be told strictly as a drama, but with an “edgier approach’. “We’ll be trying to portray the danger of life in the bush during the 1800s. The film will carry elements from the thriller genre, with films like The Ghost and the Darkness and The Village being strong references.’

According to Innes they’re looking for a budget of about R20m. “We’re in various stages of setting up partnerships with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the Afrikaans language and culture association ATKV and some private investors. Obviously the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will play a role in funding and we have some other tricks up our sleeve that will be implemented later on in production,’ explains Innes.

He believes they are making good progress. “We have a successful first draft of the script and are currently working on the second. We also did a location scout to Van Reenen’s Pass (between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal) and would like to explore using that area as our primary location,’ notes Innes. They are also busy assembling a marketing team.

“In two weeks we’ve had celebrities, art institutes and various publications marketing the film through social media which has resulted in a Facebook fan base larger than most South African films that release in the next few months. Traditionally local films are only marketed just prior to release but we’re starting from the ground level hoping that, by including the fans in the process of making the movie, we will have firm support base when the movie is released.’

They plan to make Afrikaans and English versions of the film, which gives viewers the option to watch it in either language. Innes explains this will be done to make it accessible to a larger audience, and as a “marketing ploy’ to get people talking about the film. “It is also something that has never been done before and I like the idea that we are creating cinema that challenges the traditional way of doing things,’ notes Innes.

Production is planned for April 2013 and the aim is to release the finished product on 16 December 2013 with a premiere at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.

By Linda Loubser


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