Director Darrell Roodt recently completed his latest Afrikaans film, in which brilliant
new young talent features.
With a flood of Afrikaans romantic comedies currently hitting the big screen, Roodt
was delighted with Stefan Enslin’s screenplay. “I have made quite a few Afrikaans
feature films now and what I really liked about Stefan’s script is that it was
different. In other words, it wasn’t a romantic comedy. On the contrary, it was a
powerful human drama, just the kind of thing I love doing.’
Roodt specifically focused on the theme of a relationship between a father and his
son. “That is always a fascinating relationship to explore. It goes to very dark
places but ends in a very positive, uplifting way. However, the grand theme of the
movie is following your dreams. The hero in the story is a young boy who is a
gifted pianist and despite his dad trying to prevent him from doing this at all costs,
Learners of Helpmekaar Kollege in Johannesburg feature in the film and it was an
easy task for Roodt to pick his lead characters. Deanre Reiners had played the lead
in my film Seun – he was absolutely extraordinary and when I read Verskietende
Ster I immediately saw him in the role. He is in grade 12 at Helpmekaar so I
thought it would be wonderful to shoot at his school and cast the rest of the
supporting school kids from there too. It worked out fantastically because these
kids knew each other very well and that translated into the movie.’
The old saying in the film industry of “no children, no animals……’ did not cause
him to waver at all as he set about working with a large group of children.
“It was exactly the opposite – it was an amazing experience to explore the story
through these young people’s hearts and minds. It made me feel young again!’
Apart from the extraordinary talent of Deanre, Roodt was impressed with all of the
young cast members and he believes they are stars of the future. “All of them!
Seriously I was very impressed with their understanding of the text and their
commitment to their roles. The school’s drama department was extremely helpful in
making this all come together.’
One of the outstanding moments during filming for Roodt was watching Deanre
transform himself into a virtuoso pianist. “It was amazing to behold,’ says Roodt.
“He can’t play a piano to save his life but he acted as if he could outplay Liberace!
In the local film industry it is known that Roodt rarely hold auditions for the roles in
his films, but that actors who would fit the roles are hand-picked. “My producing
partner, Christianne Bennetto, has a very definite point of view about casting and I
always defer to her! We always aim for the best actors and we get them!’
The same goes for choosing the crew. “I always like to work with a loyal team, that
way you work faster and better and I really believe in Verskietende Ster we have
delivered a very slick film.’
Roodt acknowledges that there are more films being made in Afrikaans in South
Africa than any other language. He ascribes this to the fact that there is an
established audience for entertainment products in this language, unlike any of
South Africa’s other languages. He also believes that the films are going to get
bigger and better.
He is currently working on a new Afrikaans film, Treurgrond, which he describes as
“controversial’ and “the big film’ of 2015.
And what would he really like to do in the future? “I would love to make a great
horror film that would scare the living hell out of an audience.’
Verskietende Ster tells the story of 13-year old Phillip Schuman, a slender and timid
boy with an inconceivable musical talent, but with the hurt of the real world
preventing his light from shining.
Some of the senior actors in the cast include Jana Strydom, Ilse Oppelt, Corine du
Toit, Hanli Rolfes and Gys de Villiers while the crew was made up of William
Collinson (DOP). Annerie Gericke (production design), Sulet Dreyer (costume
design), Gerlia Groenewald (M/U), James Caroll (editor), Alli Heyns (sound) and
Geo Hoehn (composer).
The film, produced by Philo Pieterse and Stefan Enslin, will be released in May
Roodt had barely completed Verskietende Ster when he tackled a more serious film,
entitled Treurgrond which focuses on farm murders in South Africa and which is
currently being filmed in and around Gauteng.
It is not Roodt’s aim to draw the government’s proactive attention to the critical
crime situation in the country. For him it is of the utmost importance that a movie
should not be made to deliver an “important message’ to change the status quo.
“That’s a sure recipe for disaster. So, no, Treurgrond will certainly be hard-hitting
and food for thought, but one movie can’t make a difference and nor should it be
expected to do so. A movie is just a movie… But never underestimate the power of
Treurgrond is the story of a farmer striving to make his farm a success despite the
threat of land redistribution and escalating farm attacks. The story consists of
multiple parallel narratives. One of the narrative threads involves a woman police
captain investigating the ongoing tragedy of farm attacks and the plot follows her as
she tries to maintain law and order in a rural community. Her partner is a forensic
photographer who is new to both the job and the rural environment. The viewer
explores the terrain and the complexities of modern South Africa through his eyes
The other narrative involves the farmer’s brother, a young lawyer, who has a battle
of his own to fight – trying to legally protect the farm from being sold. Meanwhile
the spectre of farm attacks hangs over the community.
Treurgrond is a film in the tradition of other films Darrell has made, such as Little
One as it explores the men and women at the heart of South Africa, and what they
have to endure and overcome, to make sure that the future is bright for all who live