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‘Stam’ (The Tree), the new film written and directed by Louw Venter and produced by the team behind the multi-award winners ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound, 2017) and ‘This is not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection’, 2020, has scooped the award for Best South African Film at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). This is the third time that the award has been taken home by work produced by Urucu with a first-time director at the helm.

The film had its world premiere in competition at this year’s DIFF, and won over the jurors with its authentic glimpse into the lives of people living on the fringes of society.

“As an outsider, I felt ‘Stam’ shows the South African social texture in a very special and intriguing way, depicting the various strata of the population living side by side, making it seem like it could not be otherwise,” said juror Or Lee Tal from Israel.

“’Stam’ is a testament to the evolution of the South African film narrative, with brutal honesty, lack of pretension and a determined yearning for truth,” said Layla Swart, a local producer and juror.  “It comes out of nowhere to completely win you over with its sincerity and sheer heart.”

“We are so excited to have won this prestigious award,” says director Louw Venter. “This year’s programme was vibrant and diverse and it is a true honour for ‘Stam’ to have been recognised in this way. It is particularly significant that an Afrikaans language film can compete in a festival that is truly representative and independent. We are deeply honoured to be included in the global cinematic conversation. We are grateful to the organiser, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, and to all the organisations and partners who worked so hard to put DIFF together in these strange and difficult times.”

The film tells an unpredictable story that avoids political correctness as it explores the inner world of a group of people who want nothing more than to belong. ‘Stam’ is a choral narrative which follows the interlinked lives of five vastly different characters over the course of a few hours in inner city Cape Town. The theme of human connection lies at the heart of the film. It’s an exploration of the ties that bind us and that exist independent of familiarity, economics, gender, race or social standing. Cape Town too, with its particular brand of tribalism, decay, magic, gentrification, globalisation and regeneration, plays a central role in the film.

‘Stam’ features a strong ensemble cast, led by Inge Beckmann (‘8’, ‘The Dark Tower’, ‘Troy: Fall of a City’, ‘Escape Room’), Gideon Lombard (‘Suidooster’, ‘Lien se Lankstaanskoene’, ‘Black Sails’, ‘Twee Grade van Moord’), Tarryn Wyngaard (‘Tess’, ‘Noem My Skollie’, ’Arendsvlei’) Niza Jay (‘Inxeba’, ‘Valedictory’), with supporting performances by Armand Aucamp (‘Sterlopers’, ‘Ballade vir ‘n Enekling’, ‘Wat kook by Andre Aucamp’), Nicola Hanekom (‘Sinbad’, ‘Song vir Katryn’, ‘Isidingo’, ‘Charlie Jade’, ‘Fishy Feshuns’, ‘Shado's’ and ‘Heartlines’), Jill Levenberg (‘Noem my Skollie’, ‘Suidooster’, ‘Rugby Motors’, ‘Final Verdict’ ‘Stokvel’,  ‘A Place Called Home’), and Oscar Peterson (‘Vloeksteen’, ‘Die Byl’, ‘Traffic!’, ‘Suidooster’, ‘Die Boland Moorde’, ‘Swartwater’, ‘Sara se Geheim’ and ‘Parlement Parlement’).

“In terms of character, plot and storytelling, ‘Stam’ is an excellent film and a deserving winner,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution, and distributor of ‘Stam’.

‘Stam’ will also be available on KKNK’s (Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees) digital screening platform from 21 September to 1 October. Thereafter, the film will follow a new model of theatrical release on BoxOffice from 2 October.

“It’s exciting to be trying something totally new by partnering with BoxOffice for ‘Stam’s’ commercial South African début,” says producer Elias Ribeiro of production company Urucu. “We are thrilled by how well the film has been received, particularly by the Afrikaans community, since this is our first work in Afrikaans.  We look forward to the film being widely available to audiences in the safety and comfort of their homes. Another key benefit of this partnership is that the film will also be available in countries across Africa.”

‘Stam’ was produced with the support of M-Net, kykNet, the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa (DTI), the Netherlands Film Fund, the Netherlands Film Production Incentive and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).