Cape Winelands Film Festival 2010: Ardman’s Sproxton visits animation academy


After ten days of screenings and events in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the Cape Winelands Film Festival came to an end on Saturday 27 March, with a screening of winner of the festival’s Grand Prix, Eyes Wide Open, which the Feature Film jury described as ‘a film whose excellence crosses all aspects of filmmaking’.

Attendees included Shirley Adams Director Oliver Hermanus, its star Denise Newman, Kentridge and Dumas in Conversation director Catherine Meyburgh and Streetball director Demetrius Wren.

The festival is just one element of the energy and drive in the Cape towards creating a sustainable film culture. Earlier in the week, Ardman Animations CEO David Sproxton attended the launch of an animation academy at False Bay Good Hope College, which is located on the outskirts of the Khayelitsha township. Also in attendance was Cape Film head Laurence Mitchell, who said that the academy was a nine-year dream that would generate more film talent for the area.

Current talent was celebrated in a number of local awards handed out by the juries at Cape Winelands. This included a Special Mention by the Feature Jury for Denise Newman, who plays the titular role in Oliver Hermanus’ Shirley Adams. She was described as offering ‘a moving account of a life that lies behind news stories about gang violence. Shirley Adams’ heroism is not the stuff of Hollywood filmmaking. There is no crusade against gun culture or a successful battle to stop the violence that is tearing communities apart. Her bravery lies in facing each day with the determination to survive it.

The Best South African Feature award was given to Minky Schlesinger for Gugu and Andile, which updated Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, locating the action in a township shortly after the repealing of the Apartheid laws. The Jury commented, ‘Minky Schlesinger’s film, with its superb script, draws out the timeless appeal of Shakespeare’s work and with editing that captures the breathless pace of the narrative, the result is a work that will speak to young and old, both in the appeal of the play and the way its is incorporated into and sheds light on an important aspect of many people’s lives in South Africa.’

Another South African winner was Catherine Meyburgh (editor on Gugu and Andile) for her excellent documentary Kentridge and Dumas in Conversation, which jurist Lucia Saks praised for its exceptional interpretation of two artists’ lives and work, finding an original and inspiring form by which to explore its fascinating subjects.

The Audience Award also went to a South African film, Lonny Price’s adaptation of the acclaimed Athol Fugard play, Master Harold…and the Boys. The award was timely, in a week when the world premiere of Fugard’s new play, ‘The Train Driver’ took place at the recently opened Fugard Theatre, in Cape Town’s District 6.

War Against the weak film poster. The Documentary prize went to Justin Strawhand’s War Against the Weak, which focused on the popularity of eugenics in the early part of the 20th century. The jury praised the film for its novel approach, employing an experimental style and archive footage to explore its subject.

In the short film section, the winning film was British director Sam Donovan’s Hammerhead, while Canadian film Danse Macabre picked up a Special Mention.

The Feature Film jury also gave a Special Mention to Heikki Nousiainen for his performance in Klaus Härö’s Letters to Father Jacob, which ‘subtly details the everyday existence of this private man who, as he comes to the end of his life,’ stating that it ‘is a performance of grace and humility that befits such an involving story’.