Afrikaans crime novel adapted for the big screen


Die Ontwaking (The Awakening), a grisly, action-packed
thriller that investigates the mind and motivations of an acutely intelligent serial
killer, will open in selected cinemas around the country on 26 February 2016.

The film is the directorial debut of production designer Johnny Breedt
(Paljas, Hotel Rwanda, A Long Walk to
). Die Ontwaking is based on the first book of the
Abel trilogy, Abel se Ontwaking (translated into English
as The Skin Collector), by crime writer Chris Karsten.

Abel Lotz (Gys de Villiers), the owner of a small art gallery specialising in African
masks and artefacts, is also a curator of a different kind: he has an assortment of
tattoos which he harvests from the bodies of his beautiful young victims for a
collection that forms part of his “cosmic journals’, a bizarre project in which he
retells the story of the cosmos. Ella Nesser (Juanita de Villiers) is the attractive, but
inexperienced police detective in charge of the case. Her task is to track down the
serial killer before yet another young woman is murdered. She is in a long-term
relationship with Bam (Armand Aucamp), and while she works hard to prove herself
to her more senior colleagues Fred Lange (Gerard Rudolf) and Silas Sauls (Paul
Eilers), she also has to deal with personal issues.

“A few years ago I decided I wanted to direct a film in Afrikaans and I popped into a
book store to look for inspiration,’ says Breedt. “That’s when I came across Chris
Karsten’s Abel se Ontwaking. I read it on a flight to the USA and I
could not put it down. I just knew that it could be turned into a fantastic film. The
thriller genre is much darker than what I had in mind for my first feature film, but
that was also what attracted me to the project. I wanted to challenge myself as a
scriptwriter and director and this was the perfect vehicle. I was determined to take
the audience with me into places that make people feel uncomfortable.”

The film explores how twisted societies also produce traumatised, deeply wounded
individuals, who eventually turn to violent behaviour. At its heart, Die
delves into the complex dynamic between the deranged, yet
sympathetic Abel Lotz and the rookie police investigator who is resilient, fit and
focused. The film plays with the mind of its audience and keeps people wondering
what goes on in the mid of a psychopath.

Die Ontwaking has been selected to screen on the opening night of
Eden Independent Film Festival in George, which runs from 30 October to 1
November 2015. It will also screen on the closing night of the South African Horror
Fest in Cape Town on 6 November 2015.


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