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Spling's Galileo Pick of the Week: Finding Nemo


Spling's Pick of the Week - Finding Nemo at Muldersvlei Estate

FINDING NEMO @ MULDERSVLEI ESTATE (3 Dec)

In its time, Finding Nemo was a game-changer, the pinnacle of animation heralded by Pixar. Having already raised the bar with Monsters Inc, they delivered yet another hugely entertaining animated adventure comedy for all ages. The misadventures of young clown fish, Nemo, have been beautifully captured by a smart, funny and touching script; brilliant voice casting; charming vocal performances; spectacular animation; comprehensive direction and an emotive soundtrack.

There's very little to fault in this prime example of film-making, which cleverly mingles adult themes into a format traditionally reserved for children. Entertaining, smart, endearing and hilarious, it's no wonder that this film still serves as a calling card for Pixar today.

This animated family classic is showing under the stars at The Galileo Open Air Cinema.

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Spling to Adjudicate at AFDA Graduation Festival 2016


AFDA, South Africa’s only Oscar-winning film, television and performance school, is proud to host their annual graduation festival produced by Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban 3rd year undergraduate and 4th year postgraduate students. This year the festival will proudly showcase a record 91 productions from the respective AFDA campuses, including 60 live action short films, 11 pilot television shows, 11 live music performance shows and 9 theatre productions.

All the productions are assessed by industry professionals, AFDA learning staff members and most importantly the public. Spling has been invited to serve as a judge on the critics panel again this year, after adjudicating at AFDA's 2014 and 2015 graduation festivals. Here are his Top 5 films from the 2015 graduation festival and the speech he delivered at last year's graduation ceremony, where he presented the Critic's Award.

The graduation production constitutes 50% of the complete students assessment for the year. If you want to see the best up and coming future talent in the South African entertainment industry, the AFDA Graduation Festival 2016 is for you.

AFDA Graduation Festival 2016

Johannesburg Campus 17-26 November Performance School 17- 26 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, Red Roof Theatre. Television School 23-24 Nov / Venue: AFDA campus, L1 Film School 25-26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Rosebank

Cape Town Campus 21-26 November
Performance School 21-25 Nov / Venue: 228 on Lower Main, AFDA Theatre Television School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre Film School 26 Nov / Venue: Labia Theatre

Durban Campus 18-26 November
Performance School 18 Nov / Venue: Durban Campus (Actors Sudio) 22 Nov / Venue: Wushwini Centre of Arts and Heritage Television School 25 – 26 Nov / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway Film School 25-26 / Venue: Cinema Nouveau, Gateway

On 28 November 2016 the annual AFDA Online Festival goes live online giving you an opportunity to watch and rate the productions. In the meantime, follow the progress of all the AFDA 2016 productions at the AFDA Graduation Festival OnlineView previous AFDA Graduation Festival productions. Watch AFDA’s Top 21 graduate films since 1994.

 
Movie Review: Vir Die Voëls


South African film has come a long way as evidenced by Vir Die Voëls or For the Birds, a South African romantic comedy drama with a similar ebb-and-flow to the American sitcom, The Wonder Years. The film is directed by Quentin Krog, who is best known for Ballade vir 'n Enkeling. While Vir Die Voëls also has a dramatic and romantic element, its quirky comedic undertones are carried by a plucky lead character who narrates and stars. We follow Irma Humpel, beginning with her wedding day and then going back in time to her childhood as she assumes the role of invisible bystander. We fast-forward to her high school years, learning about her difficult home life situation, her decision to stay with her grandmother and forge a new life. She inadvertently reconnects with Sampie de Klerk, a boy who used to bully her as a child, and this is where the unlikely romance begins...

The Taming of the Shrew is definitely a strand to this story, as Irma gets to grips with life in South Africa. Living in a patriarchal and traditionally male-dominated culture, Irma's defiant journey finds her doing a lot of upstream swimming. She's the eptiome of "tough cookie", the kind of girl who used to beat up boys in the playground and continues this legacy into her adult life. Her fierce independence and strong will make Sampie's advances seem futile, despite his tenacity and neverending reserve of charm. Set in South Africa in the '70s, the romance between Irma and Sampie, a homefront nurse and soldier in the South African Border War, has nostalgia and a wistful edge.

The production design is authentic, carving a very accurate depiction of a seemingly forgotten time in Afrikaans culture. For a South African film, Vir die Voëls is very white – something it may be criticised for – actively avoiding race and politics in favour of keeping the spotlight on the budding small town romance. This film is inspired by a true story, focussing on a close-knit community and the "Pleasantville" scenario feeds into the notion that some white Afrikaans working class communities may have been locked in a small town bubble during the '70s. It's refreshing, brave or maybe even foolish, for a South African film to completely sidestep the A-word, even if the subliminal is highlighted by virtue of its absence and it favours tackling gender issues.

Vir Die Voels

"Runaway turned bride... who would've guessed?"

When you learn of the film's origins, having been derived from a Huisgenoot reader's real-life story, you go in expecting a slapped-together project honouring a competition. However, Vir Die Voëls is anything but perfunctory... as we witness a surprisingly entertaining, spirited and passion-led project. Krog continues to impress with a film that dexterously navigates some difficult genre terrain, lacing a character's difficult upbringing and determined singleness into a film that remains upbeat, quirky and fun.

The most surprising element is Simoné Nortmann, whose star quality and presence is evident from the get-go. Reminiscent of Zoe Kazan, Nortmann's pixie features and cheeky disposition keep her likable as she immerses us in her own life story. At first, you wonder if the bride is going to narrate the entire story but the film-makers cleverly slip her into the proceedings with a license to break the fourth wall and address the audience from time-to-time. While not as instantly likable, possibly owing to his character's background, Francois Jacobs grows on us like moss. Just as cheeky, he complements Nortmann and their magnetic relationship becomes more endearing as the two push-and-pull.

The lead couple are supported by Lara Kinnear and Bennie Fourie as their best friends, Marieda and Karel, who give them respite and reasons to meet by a mistake-on purpose when they're not enjoying married life. The film is bolstered by the presence of Neels van Jaarsveld, Nicola Hanekom and Elize Cawood as Irma's father, mother and grandmother respectively. Tackling alcohol abuse and dealing with the ripple effect is a subplot, which shares a cast member and parallels aspects from 'n Man Soos My Pa. While there to add more dramatic depth and heft, these experienced actors round off a strong ensemble with fine and heartfelt performances.

Vir Die Voëls may have rose-tinted glasses and a selective memory, but this sliver of romance comedy drama will uplift film goers. The cast chemistry is fantastic, the production design is immersive, the nostalgic music will take people back, the story's verve is infectious, the performances are charming and heartfelt, the cinematography is effortless, the screenwriting is deft, the themes are universal and the direction is sensitive yet sensible. While decidedly niche, this is an entertaining and touching film that transcends the bounds of "romcom" with a thoughtful and enjoyable tour down memory lane.

The bottom line: Earnest


 
The Craft Opinion Brewery (T.C.O.B.) #17 by Leonidas Michael


CHRIST THE REDEEMER

The retailers have finally succeeded in impressing on me that Christmas is coming. And, having seen the light (or lights), I decided that this instalment of T.C.O.B. would feature Jesus Christ.

Firstly, a word about T.C.O.B. instalments: this will be the last of the current series. My thanks to all who taken the time to read these seventeen essays on film appreciation and related pleasures. Hopefully you have gained from it. You can stay in touch by following T.C.O.B. on twitter @TCOB_capetown and on facebook at @TCOBcapetown.

I return to Jesus Christ, or rather to the portrayal of the man in a film which I have seen more than three times and can therefore recommend in good conscience. Theology is not used in T.C.O.B.’s catechism. But I believe that art, when it is good, is deeply spiritual. This, in my opinion, justifies an attempt to understand Christ and his word by means of an actor’s interpretation in a film.

The original title of the film I propose we examine is Jesus Christus Erlöser – Christ the Redeemer. It was shot in 1971 in Berlin under the direction of Peter Geyer and stars the notorious Klaus Kinski. It is very easy to find, either in the original German or with subtitles. A word of warning, however: it is not about Jesus Christ Superstar. The Christ which Kinski portrays is “not the official Church-Jesus, tolerated by bankers, generals, politicians and other representatives of power, only to be slapped across the face as soon as he stops playing his ascribed role.” This Jesus rejects dogma and ideology. He does not have a racial identity. He does not belong to any party – not even the Christian party.

Kinski is detested, if not more than, then at least as much as he is adulated. With his unorthodox interpretation of the Christ he was always going to arouse indignation. Furthermore, he does not disguise himself for the role. He appears in a floral/polka-dot shirt, wide-bottom jeans and shoes with big heels – as one does in 1971 – and speaks in modern or at least non-biblical vernacular. “The police are looking for me,” he announces. The lack of distinction between the mortal – perhaps disgustingly so – actor and the holy figure of Christ may also offend many. Nonetheless, the spirit of redemption is discernible in his words: “the police are looking for me because I cry out that the existing order will fall…”

Jesus Christus

Discernment is not easy in the humdrum of life. You need to listen carefully. But Kinski’s speech is soon marred by jeering and whistling. After a few minutes he is forced to interrupt himself. He shouts to the hecklers to “shut their gobs.” A pharisee comes up to him and declares for the benefit of those present, “This is not the Christ. Jesus, as far as I know, was tolerant. Had someone contradicted him, he would have tried to win him over with dialogue, not told him to shut his gob.” – “No!” roars Kinski in reply. “He didn’t tell him to shut his gob. He took a whip and smacked his gob! That’s what he did, you stupid pig! And that just might happen to you too!”

To put it in context, it is worth going back to the beginning of the film. People are filing into the Deutschlandhalle, a now demolished theatre in Berlin. They move in and out of shadows. Lights form halos around the heads of the ushers… the suggestion is not that you are beholding the gates of heaven complete with a welcoming party of saints, though who among the living can say for certain what the entrance to heaven looks like? But the scene does arouse the feeling that you are about to participate in something removed from the material concerns of life.

Indeed, you do not have long to wait before Kinski tells of a soldier who wanted to follow Jesus. “What must I do?” he asked. Jesus told him, “Cast off your uniform and follow me.” Another man, tells Kinski, said to Jesus he wanted to follow him wherever he went. Jesus said to him, “Then give all you have to those who have nothing, and follow me.” The Pope himself, tells Kinski, came up to Jesus and beseeched him to reveal what he had to do so that he might follow him in eternity. “Shut your gob,” replied Jesus, “and follow me.”

Jesus Christus

That is how “the fall of the existing order” ought to be understood. The word of Kinski’s Redeemer is, do not set great store by material things. As impressive, reasonable and necessary as they appear to be, they are transient. Seek, rather, and believe in the eternal. Then you will live without fear of death, which is to say, you will be living people. Of course, it is a hard act to follow. Who would be defenceless? Who would be impoverished? Who would be silent who is so righteous? But ultimately the question is, will you hear the word and try to live by it, or will you reject it and crucify the bringer? When Kinski poses the dilemma the prevailing mood is for the latter. He is jeered and heckled. Finally, the stage is invaded.

But wait a moment, you say… What is being discussed here: a film or a stage performance? I confess, I was unclear on this point. Christ the Redeemer is a filmed stage performance. Though I don’t see why we shouldn’t agree to call it simply a film. There’s a sequence of moving pictures captured by various cameras that lasts about eighty minutes. There’s a story – quite possibly an interesting one, to judge by the fact that it’s survived over two millennia – and a legendary actor in the lead role. There’s a drama arising from the efforts of a largely hostile audience to stop the lead actor from fulfilling his role. There’s film editing, light and sound production to enhance the drama. What more does one need to have a film? A hundred million dollar budget and special effects up the arse? Personally, a trillion dollar budget and whatever special effect comes with it won’t do it for me as long as the film is not good. I might not be a redeemer, but I know that the world will be a better place when the aesthetic of the blockbuster is finally inserted back into whatever arse it issued from.

The most wonderful quality of Christ the Redeemer is the realism with which it portrays Jesus’ passion to bring his word to humanity. It is achieved in large part because it happens by accident. Kinski was supposed to have come on stage and delivered a monologue. The audience was supposed to have sat and listened. Instead, as with Christ over two thousand years ago, the audience does not want to hear and the word is obscured by cries of scorn. But the bringer’s passion will not die. He wants to bring his word to humanity regardless. He is forced to leave the stage but he returns. He is forced to leave again. He returns again. When he returns for the fourth time there are only about a hundred people left in the theatre. But he will speak to them. His body is tired. His voice has weakened considerably. But he will speak. He will say what he came to say.

The film’s ending is a deeply moving parallel with Jesus Christ’s lingering death on the cross. The actor playing him has strutted and fretted not one but several hours, and yet he continues to speak.

“My God, do not forsake me. Give me the strength to die. Give my death a meaning. Make them understand at last why I am dying. Make them understand why I have been dead for two thousand years and yet continue to die…”

For humanity is still unwilling to hear Christ’s word. And so we continue to crucify him every year.

But such is Christ’s passion that ultimately he knows there is a meaning to his short life and unjust death. Such is his love for humankind that he knows one day we shall all hear and understand. And here the film ends. The actor takes his bow and the shot moves off him, upwards into light.

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