RacheltjieCulture today is about constant reinvention.  Everything old is rejigged until it’s new again. That’s how Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer, the new film directed by Matthys Boshoff, began its journey to the big screen. The film opens in cinemas nationwide on 18 October 2019.

The retelling of the celebrated folktale is based on the debut novel of the same name by bestselling author and award-winning filmmaker Brett Michael Innes. In 2012, he wrote a fleshed-out and more complex version of The Story of Racheltjie de Beer and it became a South African bestseller. He went on to adapt it for screen with director Matthys Boshoff, and together they have crafted a tale that pays homage to its childhood roots, while following the audience into our adult lives.

The much-loved tale tells the story of the De Beer family. When their wagon breaks down, they are forced to find shelter on a local farm in the Eastern Free State. Winter has arrived and, as dark clouds laden with snow start to roll in over the Drakensberg mountains, tragedy strikes. It’s a poignant story of hardship, sacrifice and selfless love set against the harsh backdrop of the South African bushveld during the 1800s.

‘In writing the novel, I had few facts at my disposal, but that gave me freedom to develop the story creatively,” says Innes. ‘My focus was on providing insight into the characters and their journey, and empathy for them as they were forced by tragedy to make peace with a painful past. The tension between truth and fiction provided the opportunity to bring a fresh look at Racheltjie’s tale in a way that will appeal to loyal followers, younger contemporary audiences and to those who are not familiar with her story.’

Many writers are drawn to folktales because, by their very nature, they are meant to be retold and reinterpreted from generation to generation. They appeal to audiences because people are familiar with the strange, dark lands that are the traditional territory of folktales. Then there is the deceptively simple language and structure of folktales that provides a backdrop for the key messages to stand out.

‘As a film writer and director, I am less concerned with whether or not the story is true, but far more interested in the universal human truths found in Racheltjie’s story,’ Boshoff says. ‘As Piet Roodt, former professor in Afrikaans literature at the University of Pretoria, once told me, ‘Met ‘n storie lieg jy die waarheid’ (In storytelling you make truth out of lies). What does the story reveal about us as human beings, our nature and culture? My hope is that this adventure-drama will have audiences in awe of nature’s beauty and power, show them the fortitude of a young girl facing mortal danger and tug at the heart strings,” says Boshoff. Hopefully it will leave them pondering their relationships with those whom they love most.’

Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer stars Stian Bam ('Modder en Bloed', 'Verraaiers'), Zonika De Vries (''n Man Soos My Pa', 'Dis Koue Kos, Skat'), Marius Weyers ('Dis Ek, Anna', 'Faan Se Trein'), Sandra Prinsloo (''n Man Soos My Pa', ''n Pawpaw vir My Darling'), Antoinette Louw ('Bram Fischer', 'Nul Is Nie Niks Nie'), Seputla Sebogodi (Isidingo, Scandal, Rhythm City) and Beate Opperman ('Verraaiers', 'Roepman'),and Charlie Bouguenon (‘Transformers: The Last Knight’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Vuil Wasgoed’). Starring in his first film role is Johannes Jordaan in the role of Racheltjie's little brother.

The film recently won Best Actor (Stian Bam), Best Production Design and a Special Award for VFX at the 2019 kykNET Silwerskerm Festival.

 

View Trailer Here

Indigenous Film Distribution: www.indigenousfilm.co.za

 

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david alex wilson

Mad Moth Communications

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e-mail: davidalex@madmoth.co.za