When five women are tossed about by life’s rough waters and seemingly drowning in their own problems, a group therapy river rafting adventure meant to help them find inner healing goes horribly wrong and challenges them to either sink further into their predicaments or allow themselves to swim back up to reclaim their lives.
Stroomop is an inspiring, Afrikaans adventure film by actor and first-time director, Ivan Botha of 17Films. After branching out from his performance career to co-write and co-produce the films Pad Na Jou Hart and Vir Altyd with Danie Bester, Botha decided to take another leap in his career and direct his first film.
“We wanted to make a film where women don’t need a man to save them, where women are their own heroes. The timing cannot be more perfect as there is a conscious movement and energy celebrating women as we do with our story,” shares Botha.
Scheduled for nationwide cinema release on Women’s Day, 9 August 2018, Botha says the film is inspired by issues women deal with on a daily basis which he wants viewers to experience through the journey of these remarkable women.
“It’s a film about healing, life and death. Our characters embark on a life-changing adventure and truly discover their inner strength,” says Botha.
The strong female characters in this film are played by Donnalee Roberts, Simoné Nortmann, Chanelle de Jager, Carla Classen and Ilse Klink.
Roberts plays Lana, a surgeon with a tragic past. She lives for her work and is passionate about saving lives because she was unable to save her father’s life. However, when she loses this gift, her identity is challenged and she is forced to rediscover herself.
Vivian, played by Nortmann, is a data analyst living a lie. She has lost her passion for life and is searching for a new adventure.
Chanelle de Jager takes on the role of Adrie who has tons of potential but seems to have lost herself somewhere between marriage and motherhood. She is looking for a way to recharge her batteries and to take care of her own needs for a while.
Carla Classen plays Nixie, an introverted millennial hiding her pain behind false illusions in the form of filters and hashtags. She is very specific about who she spends time with and what she says. Nixie does not have a good relationship with her mother, and sometimes feels lost as she struggles to decide what she wants to do with her life.
Ilse Klink plays Diona and mother to Nixie. She is a strong-willed family lawyer who has spent years helping other families but has neglected her own in the process. She does not need other people to feel worthy and shows her love by presenting events and solutions, but that’s not what her daughter needs.
Overwhelmed by their realities, the women decide to go for group therapy. As part of their healing process, they are asked to take part in a river-rafting excursion on the Orange River. However, things don’t go as planned when their river guide, Guy, played by Armand Aucamp, is swept off the raft and the women are left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere.
The group is only expected back after two-days, so together the women have to fight for survival in the wild, while in retrospect conquer their own fears and pain to get back to their families.
“Stroomop was not the easiest of films to choose as a debut – including wild animals and working on water allowed for enough challenges. It was an honour to be in the driving seat of this incredible story with an even more incredible crew and cast behind me,” says Botha.
Principal photogarapy commenced in February this year, and took place in Johannesburg and Onseepkans – a small settlement near Pofadder on the Orange River in Northern Cape.
“We went for a very personal, natural and realistic look and feel, driven and motivated by character. We wanted our audience to become a character on the adventure; our audience is always experiencing the journey with the characters,” Botha comments.
This, they did by shooting handheld and letting the characters determine the camera movement.
“Our characters move from a broken artificial world to the natural world; this motivated our lighting and sound designs. The elements were always motivated by our setting,” shares Botha.
Seasoned cinematographer Tom Marais is a long-time pal of Botha and the Director of Photography (DOP) on Stroomop. Botha recalls that it was ten years ago while on the set of Bakgat 1 when he was still acting, that Marais said that he would assist him when he finally pursued a career in directing.
Marais used the ARRI Amira to shoot the film: “We filmed on the ARRI – Amira, and we shot for scope. We made use of 5D on some of the wilder white-water scenes,” informs Botha.
Special effects were also used to enhance some scenes in the film which include the wild hyena and snake scenes as well as the great stunts on the white-water rafting scenes. Botha comments: “Although the actors did 99 per cent of their own stunts, we did have a few shots which required VFX. Luckily, we have teamed up with Two Tales Animation who have done some incredible work.”
With post-production, editing was handled by C.A. van Aswegan from Fix Post Productions, while Botha handled the online, post sound, grade and final mix at Refinery.
As part of the release of the film, some of the crew and cast of Stroomop will be hosting a Women’s Day event at Atterbury Theatre on 9 August.
The event aspires to make woman celebrate and embrace the challenges and adventures of womanhood and will include a session on self-discovery, forgiveness, acceptance and healing, as cast members Donnalee Roberts and Simone Nortmann share their life stories with the guests.
Stroomop is distributed locally by Ster-Kinekor Entertainment and will be screened exclusively at Ster-Kinekor cinemas.
“I hope moviegoers become characters and walk out feeling inspired, healed, having journeyed with these characters,” says Botha.
Stroomop was produced by 17 Films and The Film Factory SA, in cooperation with kykNET, the National Film and Video Foundation and the Department of Trade and Industry.
- Camera: Arri Amira Stroomop was shot on the Arri Amira.
- Director: Ivan Botha
- Producers: Donnalee Roberts, Ivan Botha, Danie Bester
- Writers: Ivan Botha, Donnalee Roberts and Sean Robert Daniels
- DOP: Tom Marais
- Editor: C.A. van Aswegan
- Sound: Basiami Segola and Charlotte Buys