Documentary Series

Doccie explores what Oscar Pistorius tragedy revealed about the new SA

Four-part documentary series, 'Pistorius', draws parallels between the disgraced paralympian’s life and SA's rebirth as the rainbow nation

09 September 2018 - 00:00

In 2015, Welsh director Vaughan Sivell had just completed his debut feature film, a documentary about sporting legend and fellow countryman, boxer Joe Calzaghe.
Speaking by phone from the UK, where he's shooting his latest film - "a comedy set during the Crusades" - Sivell says that the experience of shooting his first feature was upbeat.
Wanting to build on the success of the film, he and his production team looked around for other sporting stories that might make for interesting documentary films. On that very short list was Oscar Pistorius.
While Sivell had not really followed the trial of the paralympian hero who killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, he realised that Pistorius's story, with its epic rise and swift and terrible fall was, as one of the appeal judges in the case would describe it, "a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions".
Sivell's one great reservation was that "it had been a widely covered event and there had already been several other fast TV pieces made about it, so what was there left to say?"
Like the Oscar-winning 2016 US documentary series OJ: Made in America, Sevill's series, Pistorius, attempts to place the Pistorius tragedy within a wider context of the time and place of the events.
Sivell saw from the initial research for what is now a four-part, four-hour series that "there were two things. One was the misconceptions I had about what had actually happened and what had happened in court that the pre-trial press had suggested in the days after the event."
WATCH | The trailer for Pistorius

Cast your mind back to the month after Valentine's Day 2013. Some of the suppositions in the British tabloids and on US news channels now seem ridiculous.
The second thing that Sivell realised "was that there was something poignant and true from an outsider's view; the 'New SA', the country, and Pistorius were both born within a short time of each other, both with enormous challenges for that specific time and place.
"Both had to overcome so much to get to where they were."
Nelson Mandela had defied expectations of retribution and punishment against his former oppressors to create the dream of reconciliation of the Rainbow Nation...

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