To fully understand the legacy of the great South African directors, it is necessary to consider the socio-political climate that has influenced the evolution of film in our country. The acknowledged directorial masters: Manie van Rensberg, Jans Rautenbach, Ross Devenish, Katinka Heyns and Darrell Roodt; were obliged to confront the numerous challenges and obstacles strewn in their path in order to achieve the fame they enjoy today. Before we examine their careers and works, let us conduct a brief overview of the history of South African film.
The story of the South African film industry begins some 108 years ago at the conclusion of the nineteenth century. It was the time of the Anglo-Boer War. American and British film pioneers, armed with this new technology, were conducting a private campaign consisting of mobile theatres for viewing in the mining industry and (while the war raged) in the military.
Some of the earliest examples of film in South Africa were newsreels recorded on the front lines.
The first true motion picture created in South Africa was The Great Kimberely Diamond Robbery of 1910. The film standard from this point out shifted from simple visual chicanery to the dramatic full-length picture. The first Afrikaans film to follow this motion picture drive was De Voortrekkers of 1916. Over 1300 movies have been made in this country since that time!
It was in the early 1930s, however, that a major paradigm-shift began to unfold that would have far-reaching consequences for the burgeoning SA film industry. Afrikaner nationalism was taking root, affecting the subject matter and imposing stylistic frameworks for decades to come. With the release of Sarie Marais in 1931, the first SA film created with integral sound, popular public interest began to take hold and the nationalists took note. Independent nationalist-run...