SA movie has global festivalgoers raving
South African movie Shepherds and Butchers, which hits big screens in this country next week, has already achieved international acclaim.
It won the Maverick Award for best feature narrative and the Hasklell Wexler Award for best cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival, in New York state. The festival features independent productions.
Shepherds and Butchers, produced by Anant Singh and Brian Cox, is based on a true story that made headlines across South Africa in the 1980s and was later developed into a book by Chris Marnewick. It is set in 1987, when South Africa still had the death penalty. A young white prison guard, Leon Labuschagne (played by Garion Dowds), snaps mentally after witnessing several executions and kills seven members of a Diepsloot karate team in cold blood.
The movie follows a jaded lawyer, Johan Weber, who takes on the apparently hopeless task of defending the traumatised prison guard.
The film is directed by multi-award-winning director Oliver Schmitz and stars British actor Steve Coogan, Andrea Riseborough and newcomer Dowds. Local actors Deon Lotz, Robert Hobbs and Eduan van Jaarsveldt also feature.
Earlier this year the film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and won the Panorama Audience Award. Last month it opened the Jozi Film Festival.
Other screenings include those at the Sydney Film Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Art Film Festival (Slovakia), East End Film Festival (UK), International Film Festival Film by the Sea (Vlissingen, The Netherlands) and the Vancouver International Film Festival.
"An award validates the authenticity and quality of a film to the festival audience and, as a result, it brings the film to the attention of other festivals. It is very important, especially as we are a South African film, that we are able to play in this hugely competitive turf," said Singh.
Director Schmitz added he was "amazed" by the audiences' reactions at the film festivals.
"Audiences have been both shocked and moved. For many it has resonated long after the screening, which I think is a great compliment to the film."
- Additional reporting by Gabi Mbele