A second round-up of Silwerskerm short films

Shown at the kykNET Silwerskerm Festival in Camps Bay (27 – 30 August).


The second half of the kykNET Silwerskerm Festival's short film programme proved to be as potent as the first. Larceny, postnatal depression, apples, sisterhood, coming out, laundromats and even a homage to Alfred Hitchcock; it was all there. Plus popcorn.

Taking inspiration from movies such as The Italian Job and Ocean’s Eleven, Alan Hayward’s Juweeldiewe is a fun, fast-paced tale of espionage. Based on a short story written by Gert Basson, this stylish film has many kinks, but primarily revolves around international diamond thief Inezta du Preez’s (a sparkling Tinarie van Wyk Loots) attempts to entrap De Zwarte Adelaar (Ruben Engel), a notorious cat burglar in pursuit of a majestic diamond.

Winner of both the Best Short Film and Best Script awards at Saturday night’s ceremony, Nommer 37 is a Cape Flats take on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Starring an emphatic Irshaad Ally as a man confined to a wheelchair, co-directors Travis Taute and Nosipho Dumisa then sets a brutal series of events in motion starting with him witnessing a murder in the building across from his window. Gritty, suspenseful and as authentic as it gets, the film boasts one of the best festival ensemble performances.

A family gathers for Sunday lunch at the start of Hannes Loubser’s Onder die Tafel. While on the surface everything appears to be harmonious, as the title suggests, there are unresolved issues threatening to derail the decorum. Boasting a big cast – including Susanne Beyers, Marcel van Heerden, Rolanda Marais and Joanie Combrink – it's a sunny film, and enjoyment derives from watching the drama unfold.

An often-overlooked topic is given the spotlight in Morné du Toit’s Stom. Written by Tina Kruger and directed with empathy, it follows a young mother battling with postnatal depression. Partly inspired by events surrounding Kruger and Drummond’s own first few months as mothers, it was the short film most difficult to watch yet one that left me with a newfound understanding into a condition society rarely allows us to talk about.

After avoiding each other for several years, four sisters are forced to reunite in preparation for their cancer-stricken father’s death in Ben Heyns' dramedy, Totsiens, Pa. Written by Philip Nolte and based on his own mother and her sisters, this bittersweet comedy does a great job in balancing the lighthearted with the sad. Led by a formidable foursome – Elsabé Daneel, Marion Holm, Hélène Truter and Antoinette Louw – the concept also has the potential to develop into a successful television series.

Two films that easily make my top five this year are Trippie, a filmed version of Nicola Hanekom’s site-specific play that takes audiences on a fateful bus ride; as well as Vuil Wasgoed, an understated buddy comedy starring Bouwer Bosch and Bennie Fourie that ended up walking away with the Best Short Film nod on Saturday.

Finally, it would be unfair to talk about this programme section without reference to the Q&A sessions afterwards. Kabous Meiring deserves a special mention here. She always arrived prepared. She knew the names of the people she interviewed. She kept the conversation going. She maintained discipline. As someone with experience both in front of, and behind the camera, her insightful, forthright questions allowed the viewer to gain a deeper appreciation of both the film’s thematic as well as technical qualities.

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