Blood Brothers rocks GrandWest

Blood BrothersA few years ago the presenter of one of my favourite MK shows went bald; it really didn’t suit him I thought in my horrible judgmental teenage mind. Neither did the cancer, but that didn’t stop Herman Pretorius from living what time he had left to the fullest and leaving a beautiful legacy with his Vrede Foundation. Vrede raises awareness and early detection as well as funds for young people with cancer.

In aid of Vrede, Blood Brothers brought together 10 local rock n rollers (Jason Hinch, Albert Frost, Rian Zietsman, Francois van Coke, Arno Carstens,- take a deep breath – George van der Spuy, Kobus de Kock Jnr, Hunter Kennedy, Loedi van Renen and Isaac Klawansky) with the awesome Catherine Grenfell as host to one stage for a mind blowing three hours of rock and all its mutations.

With multiple ‘lead singers’ the stage dynamics made for fascinating viewing. Francois and George played solid backup when needed, killing it when they had the main mic. Black Cat Bone’s Kobus on the other hand stalked the stage like a caged lion. Arno Carstens seemed content being in the background on his tambourine, until he too displayed signs of a caged lion, in the form of a flamingo dancer.

Photo by @glanskind

Photo by @glanskind

With the Blood Brothers out of their comfort zones, most of audience members responded in kind. For the first time in years we stood close enough to feel the swoosh of wind then Francois twirls his mic on the cord and see the crazy in Kobus’ eyes. Instead of the cellphone screens the emotion of Van Coke Kartel’s Tot Die Son Uitkom inspired a few lighters to come out, no worries about scorched fingers. Then there was the middle aged guy standing rigid all night then doing what can only be described as jiving to Bubblegum On My Boots. The biggest fans of all seemed to be the Blood Brothers themselves, of each other and the music they were performing.

One of the standout covers was Hozier’s Take Me To Church with Arno Carstens on lead vocals and Albert Frost rocking the bowed guitar (simply put, it looks like he’s playing an electric guitar like a cello). For three minutes GrandWest became a charismatic church, the kind held in circus tents in the middle of a veld, with frenzied dancing.

For more on the Vrede Foundation click here.

Buy the Blood Brothers original song ‘People Gotta Kno’ here.

Photo Album: Blood Brothers @ Carnival City

 

 

Advertisements

At the Silwerskemfees with Bechdel goggles

SilweskermfeesFor kykNET‘s Silwerskemfees 2015 at the Bay Hotel I went armed with a tiny moleskin, a power bank and the Bechdel Test.  The latter might sound petty to anyone not a feminist, so you might get very annoyed or have fun hate reading. There are three components in the Bechdel Test:  1. The movie has to have at least have two women, 2. that speak to each other, 3. about something other than a man. Seems simple but you’d be surprised how many films fail to meet even the second requirement. According to The Guardian the “pass rate” in the international industry dropped 12% in 2014 to only 55.4%.

Even though it’s technically possible to see all the feature and short films at the 4 day Silwerskermfees, the emotional toll (and having a day job) limited my viewings. Therefore all the ‘scores’ relate only to the films mentioned and not the festival as a whole.

Man soos my Pa

Man soos my Pa

‘n Man Soos My Pa

The set design in ‘n Man Soos My Pa is so rich it feels 3D. It was as if a second designer walked through each set adding at least another 5 items, recreating that authentic kitschy Afrikana style.

In a panel discussion a few days later Uitvlucht filmmaker Reghard van den Berg cited the effect a strong actor can have in raising the game of the entire cast. The effect of Sandra Prinsloo, and a lesser extent Albert Maritz, was undeniable on the cast of n Man Soos My Pa.

I realised that applying the Bechdel test is not as simple as yes and no. In terms of representation the film is fairly split in half. The women do speak to each other, but like almost every other conversation in the film it’s a about a ‘pa’ which is the central theme.

Die ProDie Pro

A coming of age surf movie, showing how doing what one loves can drag one out of a dark place. The highlights of the film are the surfing scenes and whenever the Bennie Fourie (Hermann) and his perfect one-liners got screen time (except when he was surfing).

A Bechdel Test (BT) rating of 2, with sadly very weak female characters.

Sink

Sink

Sink

Sink is purely driven by the emotion on Shoki Mokgaba’s face. This is highlighted by the minimal use of score in the first half of the film, only using amplified sounds of the environment such as the Kreepy Krauly ‘breaching’ the pool and the weather elements. The method of splashing most of the online communication on the screen like the UK series Sherlock Holmes is clean and easy to read.

Sink and Uitvlucht were the only two films (I saw) that passed the Bechdel test outright. 

Short fims

For me short films are the soul of the Silwerskermfees. Some filmmakers use their 20 odd minutes as a jumping-off point to bigger things, for others it’s a way to finance a passion project.  While some of the shorts will be shown on kykNET, it is still less mainstream than the features that are released commercially. For this reason I decided to save viewing one of the biggest films at the festival, Dis ek, Anna, for when it is released at the end of October and spend my Friday watching short films.

Another hitch when using the Bechdel test in its pure form came in revealing the shorts as many of them have a small handful of) characters.

Three short films in particular made a big impression on me:

Silwerskermfees 2015: KleingeldKleingeld

“When you’re young change (kleingeld in Afrikaans) is worth a lot, much like your first love. But as you get older notes hold more value, just like your true love. “

With this lovely unassuming sentiment Gambit Films smashes the boy meets girl formula of the romcom genre and give it a quirky update. The story is augmented by whimsical nerdtastic graphics.
BT: 1

Dearest Elle

Dearest Elle is the worthy winner in the Best Existing Short Film category at the Silwerskerm Awards.  Elle (Jenna Dunster) is stuck in a routine and a crush. It reminds me of how Jane Austen describes Pride and Prejudice, ‘Light, bright and sparkling” BT: Not applicable as there’s only 1 character and a tiny cameo.

Skewe Reënboog

Written and directed by Wim Steytler Skewe Reënboog looks at the life of an autistic shut-in (Gavin van den Berg) caught up in the idealism of the Rainbow Nation. The film is set against the striking backdrop of Santarama Miniland. The score of the film is beautiful silence, letting the audience decide for themselves what they’re feeling, politics is after all a topic that can either get people to get fired up or clam up.
BT: 2, quite remarkable as most conversations were between the autistic man and statues.

Though every film (I saw) had some level of representation at the Silwerskermfees, it was fascinating that the only other production that passed the Bechdel Test outright was the documentary Vat Die Rap. Legendary South African musicians were paired with local Afrikaans rappers to give their treffers a reboot. The music industry is notoriously skewed towards men, and let’s not even go into the misogyny of rap, the inclusion of Rina Hugo and YOMA (pronounced Jou ma in Afrikaans*) was a positive step in the right direction.

Feminism is not a swearword, it’s not about hating men, it is about equality. Maybe I’m also caught up in the idealism of the Rainbow Nation when I say filmmakers have the power to crack the patriarchal society we live in, and with the power of kykNET it can be done in more than one taal . What a wonderful potential the Silwerskermfees can still tap into.

*Best rap name ever.

Book Review: Die ou met die snor by die bar

Die ou met die snor by die bar reads like a drunken conversation at a dive bar, the kind that is interesting enough to stick around for long after the storyteller veered from his original story. This is Zander Tyler’s life as told by his alter ego Jack Parow (and penned by Theunis Engelbrecht).

Jack Parow Die ou met die snor by die bar The book is selectively personal, divulging details of his childhood and rise to fame but limiting details of his current home life to scant mentions about his supermodel girlfriend and daughter Ruby.

His hard party days however are chronicled in detail starting from his skelm (and later less skelm) drinking as a teen, travelling as far as Russia with a bottle of brannas to his current carefully managed Jägermeister and water habit.

 

The book is filled with previously unpublished lyrics of his songs and the events that inspired them. The rap of my favourite Jack Parow tune, Die Vraagstuk, was written in 2 hours in front of the Ferrari garage near Assembly in the light of a street lamp.

The mothers who send him passive aggressive hate mail will find it quite hard to believe what a “nice boy” Zander really is. He has better manners than their children he “corrupted” because his momma raised him right and he is not afraid to praise her and his father every chance he gets.

That said, this is not the book to give your 11 years old cousin for Christmas. It will give him too many ideas and his Afrikaans teacher a few grey strands. Only those with a platinum album under the belt can get away with the ‘write as you speak’ style of writing.

The above mentioned style does lose some of its punch without that punchy inflection or facial expressions. Even with the random doodles and happy snaps with witty captions, a book is far too 2D to capture the complete Zef phenomenon that is Jack Parow.

With its bright blue cover that looks more like a graphic novel, Die ou met die snor by die bar a sweet guilty pleasure read. I got quite a kick seeing it next to the unauthorised Nancy Reagan biography I’ve been struggling though on my nightstand. One might get a lot closer to the truth with an unauthorised biography, but a memoir has more spirit(s).

Die ou met die snot by die bar written by Theunis Engelbrecht and published by Penguin Books. The recommended retail price is R200 and is also available in ebook format.