SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The filming of award-winning writer and director Koos
Roets’ new Afrikaans movie, Faan se Trein (Faan’s Train), concluded in Cullinan in
Gauteng on Sunday 19 May 2013.
Playwright Pieter Fourie wrote Faan se Trein in 1970 and the stage production was
first performed in 1975 and has been lauded as a timeless Afrikaans classic.
When the play was performed 30 years later at national art festivals and theatres in
South Africa, it received the People’s Choice award at the Klein Karoo Nasionale
Kunstefees (Klein Karoo National Art Festival) in Oudsthoorn and Aardklop National
Art Festival in Potchefstroom in North West Province.
The majority of filming took place in Klaarfontein, a town in the Great Karoo with
nine permanent residents, of whom Roets is one. After five weeks of shooting, the
final day of filming took place in Cullinan with actors Willie Esterhuizen (who portrays
Faan), Deon Lotz (Skoonheid, Roepman, Verraaiers) and Anel Alexander (Discreet,
Semi-Soet, Klein Karoo) on set of the period drama.
Faan se Trein tells the story of a simple-minded man who lives in a tiny Karoo
community and of his love for trains. He lives with his ageing father Frik while Truia,
their housekeeper, cares for them and unconditionally loves the two men. However,
the people in town are divided about whether Faan should stay on or be
When it comes to light that Faan stands to inherit valuable possessions, devious
characters surface who threaten to alter Faan’s destiny forever.
Esterhuizen, who has been in the film industry for more than 30 years and is well
known as an actor, a director and producer of comedies for television and film, says
that the role of Faan was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “When you get a chance
like this, you really have to grab hold of it. I think it is a film that had to be made
and I am very grateful that I was chosen as Faan as I’ve always wanted to play this
role,’ comments Esterhuizen.
“I saw the play as a student. Willem de la Querra played Faan and Cobus Rossouw
co-starred. While I was watching it, I was thinking that when I “grow up’, I’d like to
portray Faan one day. And then I got the opportunity. Being Faan has simply been
one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. It is probably the most challenging but
undoubtedly the most satisfying role of my career.’
Esterhuizen says it was wonderful to work with legendary actors such as Marius
Weyers and Cobus Rossouw (reprising a role after almost 40 years) who he remarks are absolutely dedicated to their craft. “They give so much of themselves,’ he comments.
“Faan is like an Afrikaans version of Forrest Gump,’ mentions Esterhuizen. “Pieter
Fourie wrote the most incredible screenplay more than 40 years ago and Koos
beautifully transformed it into a movie script.’
He says he hopes audiences will share in Faan’s joy and grief. “It is truly the kind of
movie the whole family will enjoy. It contains valuable lessons that Faan, a simple
man, teaches people. He doesn’t have the ability to lie, he has no filters, he only
speaks the truth.
“This role gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself, to play a dramatic role, to grow
and to stretch myself as an actor. I was terrified before shooting commenced, but I
worked extremely hard to portray Faan as best as I could in order not to disappoint
the people who had entrusted me with the role.’
Esterhuizen adds that Faan se Trein is as South African as koeksisters, pap and
wors and Karoo lamb.
“People are going to love the film,’ he concludes.
Faan se Trein is written and directed by Koos Roets, produced by Helena Spring and
stars, among others, Willie Esterhuizen, Marius Weyers, Cobus Rossouw, Deon Lotz,
Anel Alexander, Nicola Hanekom and Sandra Kotze.
The film will be released nationally in South Africa in January 2014.
Report by Martie Bester