Sunday, 1 November 2009

Click here for new Triomf website

Triomf was released in South Africa in 2008, and went on to win the award for Best SA Film at the Durban International Film Festival.

The most up-to-date information on the film, including trailers and international reviews, can be found at

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Raeburn Featured In The Times

South Africa's daily Times newspaper interviewed Michael Raeburn about his film Triomf. Check out the November 2nd article here and read a little bit of the introduction:

STRAIGHT TALKER: Filmmaker Michael Raeburn struggled to get funding for ’Triomf’ because he refused to compromise the story Picture: ALON SKUY

Triomf has a universal quality, poverty is dramatic. The context is a metaphor, it’s the end of one world and the beginning of another

Michael Raeburn has a default personality trait — he is nothing if not tenacious, writes Aspasia Karras.

It’s raining like it’s monsoon season in Bombay the night I meet Michael Raeburn. It’s Sunday and he is on the phone to a French post production house in another room of the small house in Westdene where he is holed up for the filming of Triomf, based on Marlene Van Niekerk’s prize-winning novel about a dysfunctional poor white family on the eve of the 1994 elections.

Each room hums with the mysterious activities performed by the myriad people that populate the final credits of any film. Its a labour-intensive industry even on a Sunday night.

“Just don’t call me a British film maker,” he says when he emerges. “I am from Zimbabwe.” That fact alone could fill up several columns of this article, suffice it to say that he is less upbeat about his homeland than he was in 1993 when he made Jit a comedy that captured his hopes for the future of the country from which he had been expelled by Ian Smith for his hard-hitting film Rhodesia Countdown.

Thirty years later he made Zimbabwe Countdown questioning Robert Mugabe’s betrayal of the liberation war and documenting his own dismay at the unravelling state of his nation. “It’s a catastrophe,” he says with an air of finality, as he settles down on the couch to chat with me.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Triomf Movie Featured in Nokka Magazine

I heard from Michael this morning and they have completed the shoot in Jo'burg and he is on the way back to Paris to begin the edit process. It's amazing, with all of the weather, strikes and other challenges that the crew faced, that they were able to complete the shoot within the original time frame. This, I'm sure, is due to Michael's long-term experience in film making and the professionalism of the South African crew. I'm sure there are more tales to be told when Michael returns.

Meanwhile, Samantha Poole over at Nokka E-Magazine featured an in-depth article about Triomf the movie in the magazine's 8th Issue on page 24, entitled Frighteningly Funny - Triomf. (Click to open pdf here.) Please also visit and join Nokka's Facebook group here.

This online magazine is graphically beautiful, as you can see from this cover shot. She was also on the Triomf set and got some great pictures of the crew. We'd like to thank Samantha for the coverage and the thoughtfully-written article.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

The Dogs They Are A Howlin'

Alex has been ill and also busy with 18-hour shoot days, so all he had to send me were these two pictures. But I have to say that the photo of Lionel and Treppie doing the important dog howling scene, is amazing. This is a favorite pastime, passed down to them from their Grandfather, to howl on the front porch so that the neighborhood dogs would all join in and thus, piss off the neighbors.

The second photo is Lionel Newton and Eduan Van Jaarsveld in conversation with DOP Jamie Ramsay.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Forgotten Afrikaners

Our executive producer, Lyndon Plant, has been in Joburg recently for the shoot. He writes to me from there and his email is below. Please comment on your thoughts regarding the names used to characterize the Benade family. We are interested in your feedback:

Dear Lisa,

I had my laptop stolen in London and did not have backups of my photographs so I am afraid I cannot help any further with photographs.
[I had asked him for another one of his beautiful photos to submit to the Beautiful Africa Blog Carnival.]

On a different point, I would like to sound you out about our description of the Benades as white trash. Whilst I accept that white trash is an understood genre (especially in the States), I don't think that it describes the movie's characters well.

In particular, Treppie's intelligence and obsession with science and philosophy, Treppie's disdain for incest, Treppie's and Lambert's 'affinity' to Cleo, Lambert's friendship with Sonnie et al indicate that a different description by us would be appropriate.

I have discussed this matter with some of the actors who consider the use of the genre to be somewhat offensive, unfair and even misleading. I asked them about Afrikaner phrases that they would consider appropriate to describe the Benades or the people I have met in the community that we are filming. They came up with English words like "forgotten," "lost," "close-knit," "protective," "damaged," "deprived," "Afrikaaner underdogs," et al.

I personally like the sound and meaning of "Forgotten Afrikaners" but I would be interested to find out how our internet community who have read the book (and perhaps the author of the book) would describe the Benade family and their community collectively.

Alex has been ill and I returned to Joburg yesterday afternoon from a week's break in Harare. In brief, the weather held out for us [for the filming], although the temperature drop in the evening had Vanessa asking whether she could do the outside burial scene early Thursday evening instead of late Wednesday evening, as she was shivering from the cold.

I returned to the set with stories of a Jan Hofmeyr resident who chased and attacked a crew member and was subsequently picked up by the police in connection with other crime(s), an expensive light blowing, a generator breaking down, the volksie catching fire due to an auto electrical fault and a neighbor who is irate after being woken at 5am by the catering team setting up for breakfast and by the number of crew and cast vehicles parked on an adjacent residential road.

Its time for a cup of strong coffee!


In my research about Triomf, Sophiatown, apartheid and the 1994 first Democratic vote, I get a sense that the human beings referred to as "the poor whites problem," have been first set up and then abandoned by their government. I am not an expert, and invite your comments.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Starting the Lanwmower on the Veranda

Alex sent me a shoot update. I don't know if you have noticed, in previous pictures and the picture below, but Jose Baptista, our sound engineer, is using a revolutionary process for capturing the sound. He has his MAC laptop in a bag slung from his shoulders. He is actually capturing the sound directly into his MAC, saving several steps in the recording and mixing process. He spent quite a bit of time here in Paris prior to going to Jo'burg, looking for the perfect bag, as well as an extra battery.

Day 24

Jo'burg's excellent weather continued for another day and the pace with which we worked made us realize how much we missed through all those weeks of rain.

Today's shoot was all exterior - thank goodness we got a day off to recuperate because it was certainly long and physical. Day 24 was really all about the Benades, with our favorite dysfunctional white trash family making an attempt at landscaping their uh, front 'lawn.' Of course, this being Lambert, Treppie and Mol, nothing is quite what it seems and even the most mundane chores can provoke a semi-murderous booze-fueled conflict.

For those of us trusted with capturing the sight and the sound of their antics, it was a pleasure to behold. Here we are, filming the family in alcohol-soused action.

Of particular amusement was Lambert firing up the lawnmower on the veranda (where else?).

Tomorrow we'll be shooting at night, so cast and crew can have a bit of a sleep in. We'll be working til twelve at night, so we'll have to get all the rest we can get. And of course, our first proper evening in the none too salubrious neighbourhood of doubt a riveting experience awaits!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

World Cup Final? No Problem.

It was quite convenient that the World Cup Final was played Saturday night, after the Triomf shoot, and before a nice day off on Sunday. Otherwise, the Benades family would have had to show up on set the next day looking drunk and disheveled, or just like their characters. No makeup required to cover up that hangover. Just start saying your lines, you'll be fine.

Here's the report, a day late and typed shakily, despite the delirium tremons, by Alex, our man in Jo'burg:

Day 23...
...started inauspiciously, with gray skies and heavy mist
threatening to doom our planned shot list of exteriors. But as dawn gave way to morning, the sun burned through the clouds and gave us the kind of light we needed. The relief we all felt ensured an upbeat tone to the proceedings, with jokes and smiles giving us the stamina to complete what turned out to be a mammoth day.

A 6AM barbecue scene, complete with beers, wine and cocktails, might have looked strange to any passersby, but Coco Merckel and his fellow actors made it look like the most natural thing of the world. Of course, the day was largely overshadowed by the fact South Africa was playing England in the World Cup Final that evening.

In between
takes, all the banter between cast and crew revolved around where and with whom they'd be watching the big match. In the end, it hardly mattered, as the Boks' victory ensured that mostly everyone eventually converged at the street party on Melville's main drag.

Good thing, then, that we got to enjoy Sunday off!