18 November 2016
Passing of SA film pioneer Jans Rautenbach
Last week, on 2 November 2016, a pioneering filmmaker in South, Jans Rautenbach, the director of such controversial films as Die Kandidaat, Katrina and the frightening Jannie Totsiens, passed away at the age of 80.
Born in Boksburg in 1936, Jans Rautenbach was arguably South Africa’s most celebrated and, at the same time, most controversial filmmaker. He began his career in the film industry working for Jamie Uys Film Productions and can be glimpsed as a beer swilling bar patron in Emil Nofal’s Kimberley Jim. He also worked as a production manager on the Jamie Uys film Dingaka.
When Emil Nofal and Jamie Uys parted company, Emil Nofal started his own production company with Jans Rautenbach and thus began what could be considered South Africa’s golden age of cinema, with the partners releasing King Hendrik (1965) ~ a gentle political comedy in which a small town in South Africa discovers that it can legally declare itself independent from the rest of the country and does so ~ Wild Season (1967) ~ a human drama set against the backdrop of the sea and all its perils for those who make a living on the waters; Die Kandidaat (The Candidate) (1968) ~ a harrowing look at the stifled nature of South Africa and South African politics as an organization based on the feared Afrikaner Broederbond goes about its’ daily business, and their most controversial and thought-provoking feature Katrina (1969).
The latter film is still considered to be a milestone in South African cinema ~ a searing examination of South Africa’s horrific racial policies under Apartheid ~ and also a film which was applauded (instead of being vilified) by those who instituted those exact same unjust laws. Rautenbach also produced and directed the eerie Jannie Totsiens (Johnny Farewell) , a harrowing tale set in a lunatic asylum which is further disturbed by the arrival of a person of discord, namely a catatonic mathematics professor. This production is now known to have been South Africa’s first horror genre film and also its’ first black comedy as there are dashes of humour in an otherwise terrifying tale.
Among Rautenbach’s other notable films are Ongewenste Vreemdeling (The Unwanted Stranger) which was based on the popular Springbok Radio serial, the experimental film Eendag Op ‘n Reendag, (Once Upon A Rainy Day) the well-received doppelganger comedy Blink Stefaans (Double Crazy) and the powerful racial drama Broer Matie. (Brother Matie) During production of the latter film, the apartheid laws were broken time and time again, especially the ludicrous one that stated that “people of differing race could not be in the same shot or scene together”, rules which Rautenbach continually ignored, even to the point of getting the film’s star, Simon Bruinders into the premiere of his film. Rautenbach also directed Winners 2 – the sequel to the 1972 worldwide box office success The Winners and the German – South African co-production No One Cries Forever.
Rautenbach’s final film was Abraham, the true, tragic and emotional story of the poverty stricken Abraham Soetland who reached out to Rautenbach as a mentor and friend and whose artworks still adorn Rautenbach’s home in the Western Cape.
Source: National Film, Video and Sound Archives
Rhoda Wilson Wins Best Film Producer Again
The Western movie industry is usually characterized by African stories being portrayed with little-to-no-insight, as Africa is usually placed along the thematic lines of poverty and war.
The brutish manner in which Africa is depicted, has bred a lot of resentment, ignorance and stigma around the continent, but there a few people who are determined to change the status-quo.
Rhoda Wilson is a Nigerian-born-UK-based film producer, who is committed to telling the stories of Africa that have eluded the world for so long.
Rhoda Wilson worked as a TV personality in the UK for years and after her transition into film production, the astute lady has been notable for her “Housewives and Girlfriends” TV series. The series which was the first Nollywood-UK production to run on M-Net’s Africa Magic and also first to be nominated at the UK’s prestigious BEFFTA awards, has definitely made impact.
To crown the hard work and celebrate the impact Rhoda Wilson has made with “Housewives and Girlfriends”, the series won “Best TV Series ” .
In a related event, Rhoda Wilson again picked up Best Film Producer (TV series) at the African Film Awards which was held in London on the 5th of November 2016.
The African Film Award, is in it’s 20th year and is organized by African Voice; Britain’s Number one African Newspaper. Speaking to Rhoda on her wins, she states that she’s grateful for her successes and isn’t taking her achievements for granted. The producer who was recently spotted in Cannes with top film and TV stakeholders, stated that her aim is to take African stories across the world.
She concluded our conversation by dedicating her awards to a few special people. “Awards are dedicated to my cast, crew, family and supporters. To all producers hustling and never giving up. Above all to the God I serve because he never forgets.”, Rhoda Wilson stated.
The UK film producer also announced that she’d be shooting in Ghana soon and urged Ghanaian to await her Special Christmas gift.