South African films continue to crack it internationally, yet fail dismally to attract local audiences.
In the recent past films, such as Kalushi, failed to deliver big audiences at cinemas, yet internationally, the film was lauded. Just last week, Love By Chance, a local film starring local and international stars such as Atandwa Kani, Altovise Lawrence, Terri J Vaughan and comedian Desi Banks only managed to make just over R300000 in its opening week at the local box office. This figure is set to decline with each passing week.
Set to premiere at local cinemas in August, Krotoa, a new film about this amazing South African woman, Krotoa, continues to attract critical acclaim outside of the country with numerous awards to its name ahead of the August release.
This past week, the film produced by Penguin Films – a film production company owned by Roberta Durrant – walked away with the best film award at the Harlem International Film Festival held in New York.
However, given the state of apathy as far as purchasing movie tickets is concerned, it remains to be seen, come August, how this film will be received by local audiences.
The Harlem award was the film’s eighth award, with previous honours that include the award of excellence at the International Film Festival for Women, Social Issues and Zero Discrimination, a platinum award at the International Movie Awards, a diamond award at the Filmmakers World Festival, an award of excellence special mention: women filmmakers at the Accolade Global Film Competition.
The film, written by Kaye Ann Williams and Margaret Goldsmid, and Durrant, also stars Crystal-Donna Roberts as the leading lady, Krotoa, Deon Lotz as Roelof de Man, among others. It tells a remarkable and unforgettable story of the historical heroin – a woman who was prepared to sacrifice everything to give birth to the great nation we all share today.
The film is inspired by the story of a feisty, bright, 11-year-old girl, who is removed from her close-knit Khoi tribe to serve Jan van Riebeeck (Armand Aucamp – Ballade vir ’n Enkeling, Die Boekklub), her uncle’s trading partner. Krotoa is brought into the first Fort, established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652.
There she grows into a visionary young woman, who assimilates the Dutch language and culture so well that she rises to become an influential interpreter for van Riebeeck, who became the first governor of the Cape Colony.
Krotoa ends up being rejected by her own Khoi people and destroyed by the Dutch when she tries to find the middle way between the two cultures.
Commenting on the success of this inspirational story, the film’s director, Durrant, said the film owes its success to telling inspirational women stories. Krotoa (or Eva – a name given to her by the Dutch), the tragic heroin of this movie, was caught between two ways of life and constantly forced to choose between these two cultures.
Identity, a sense of belonging and reconciliation are strong, universal themes in this powerful tale, especially because the identity of someone, who is in between two cultures, is very relevant in any multicultural society.
Durrant said: “In comparison to men, very few women have been acknowledged for having an impact on South African history.
“During the struggle, women like Ruth First, Lillian Ngoyi, Bettie du Toit and Sophia Williams-de Bruyn stood their ground in the fight against the apartheid government.
“However, if we dig into South Africa’s rich history, we discover that there were other indigenous females even before the sisters who were involved in the struggle.”