South African Interviews

Keen for South Africa’s Most Anticipated Feature Film


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I sometimes like to think of myself as somewhat of a journalist!

And today proves no different as I sit down and read an article about an up-coming film based on a South African fable. A few of you have written in about wanting some news from the film industry…… and I can’t think of a better story. I will always remember a story I heard when I was growing up. It’s set in 1843 about a girl travelling through the desert with her younger brother. After getting lost with him during thunderstorm, she uses her body to shelter him from the cold thus sacrificing her life for his. What a powerful and heart-warming tale. If you’re a South African, have you ever heard this story? It’s called The Story of Rachel de Beer. I’ve always kept it at the back of my mind and have re-told it myself a few times to friends from abroad. For me it symbolizes unconditional love. Which is why you can imagine my delight when I recently read this article about it and its creation into a film here in South Africa! My eyes lit up immediately; I know this will be good. I will let Wikipedia elaborate a bit more:

The fable goes that in the winter months of 1843, Rachel was part of a trek from the Orange Free State to the south-eastern Transvaal. During one of their nightly stopovers, the members of the trek realised that a calf called Frikkie, much-beloved by their children, was missing.

A search party was formed, in which Rachel and her six-year old brother also took part. However, during the gathering dusk Rachel and her brother got separated from the search party and became lost. As the night progressed it got very cold and started snowing.

Realizing that their chances of survival were slim, Rachel found an anthill hollowed out by an aardvark, took off her clothes, put them on her brother and commanded him to get into the hollowed-out anthill. She then lay in front of the opening of the anthill in order to keep out the cold.

The children were found the next morning by the trekking party. Rachel was dead, but her brother had survived.

It is possible that neither of the children existed, however, as the history of the period is not well documented. To date no undisputed proof has been presented to substantiate any claims regarding Racheltjie de Beer.

Fiction or not, Rachel de Beer is entrenched in the Afrikaner culture, which is evident by the number of streets and schools named after her.

And so the film has been born, shining a light on the Voortrekkers living in Van Reenen’s Pass during the 1800’s. Naledi, the publishing house behind the new Riaan Cruywagen autobiography, have just obtained the rights to publish a novel  (in both Afrikaans and English) based on the screenplay of The Story of Racheltjie De Beer by Brett Michael Innes. Production will start in early 2013 and will be directed by Brett Michael Innes himself. Here is the trailer for it:

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