Monday, 25 June 2007

SATimes: ‘Armblankes’ story could go world-wide

Written by Elizma Nolte
Wednesday, 20 June 2007

A British filmmaker is about to create the first Afrikaans film for the international market – with a storyline that is bound to capture attention abroad and raise a few eyebrows at home.

Michael Raeburn will start shooting Triomf, an adaptation of Marlene van Niekerk’s controversial book, in South Africa in September. With the words “here is your next film”, someone had dumped a copy of the novel, which has been translated into English and widely lauded, on Raeburn’s desk.

“I was totally captivated by the characters and this world on the edge they inhabited,” he says. “It reminded me of the worlds created by [American playwrights] Sam Shepard or Tennessee Williams.”

Triomf is set in the Johannesburg suburb of the same name – a previously bulldozed township inhabited by poor white Afrikaners – in the years leading up to the 1994 elections. It follows the story of a dysfunctional family of “armblankes”, as they would have been labelled [sic] in the old South Africa.

The more politically correct term would be “trailer trash”, says Raeburn and as such he believes it tells an international story.

I cringe as I recall the mixed feelings of shock and disgust, sadness and sympathy the uncomfortable reality portrayed in Triomf had evoked on my first reading of Van Niekerk’s book. Is this really an image of South Africa we want to show the world? The Benade family – Pop, Mol, Lambert, and Treppie – are very extreme people, Raeburn admits.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.