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.

Silwerskermfees 2015: fresh popcorn, fresh ideas

Silwerskermfees 2015Do you smell the fresh popcorn floating through on the salty Camps Bay breeze? It’s Silwerskermfees time again, 4 days of fabulous South African film.

The heart of the film festival is the 15 short films commissioned by kykNET with a budget of R120 000 a piece. Over the years many film makers have parlayed their “15 minutes” into bigger opportunities like Buurtwag, that won best direction (Jaco Smit) and best screenplay (Beer Adriaanse) in 2012 that has since been adapted into a series for kykNET.

Here’s a few of my top picks for this year:

Short films

KleingeldSilwerskermfees 2015: Kleingeld

Last year Gambit Films was a Silwerskermfees audience favourite with Nommer 37, a thriller based in the Cape Flats. This year’s offering is an off beat love story of an awkward petrol attendant in love with a cashier.

Director: Jenn van Zyl
Writers: George van de Riet en Zenn van Zyl
Producers: Travis Taute and Nosipho Dumisa
Starring: Edwin van der Walt, Marvin-Lee Beukes, Shamilla Miller and Roland Reed

Silwerskermfees 2015: BeurtkragBeurtkrag

Just mention the word ‘loadshedding’ (or beurtkrag in Afrikaans) and a chorus of sighs are sure to follow. A short film (with the emphasis on short) with loadshedding as the antagonist to a couple in their perfect little home seems to be  something all South African can relate to.

Director: Tina Kruger
Writer: Stiaan Smith
Producer: Stiaan Smith, Tina Kruger, Bouwer Bosch and Rachelle Crous
Starring: Stiaan Smith and Lilani Prinsen

FotoSilwerskermfees 2015: Foto

Foto follows a young photographer trying to track down the origins of a photo taken in a time before reverse Google image search.

Director and writer: Linsen Loots
Producer: Mandelise van Loggerenberg
Starring: Antoinette Louw, Roeline Daneel, Ludwig Binge and Albert Maritz.

Full length film: Dis ek, Anna

Dis ek, Anna is based on Anchien Troskie’s best selling novels, Dis ek, Anna and Die Staat teen Anna Bruwer about a young girl molested by her stepfather.

The film recently ran into some controversy when the Films and Publications Board (FPB) classified the film as “borderline pornographic”, with a rating of 18LSV. This was a surprising move as there are no frontal nudity or explicit sex scenes in the film. On mybroadband producer Niel van Deventer said the point of the film is to address rape and abuse issues in South Africa, and that a “huge number” of under-18s in the country are affected by abuse.

Starring: Charlene Brouwer, Morné Visser, Marius Weyers, Nicola Hanekom, Elton Landrew and Ilse Klink.
Director: Sara Blecher.

Date: 26 to 29 Augustus 2015
Venue: The Bay Hotel, Camps Bay
Tickets: R150/day or R500 for the full 4 day festival

Click here for more information on the films and the program.

AfrikaBurn 2015: The Rowdy Gift

AfrikaBurn 2015 Watch me Burn Over the past year this blog received an extraordinary amount of traffic from people looking for AfrikaBurn happy snaps, better known as naked photos in the default world*. From the simple “AfrikaBurn girl naked” to the long tail searches: “girl walking nude at afrika burn”. On the return of my second Burn there’s one AfrikaBurn myth that I can dispel with some confidence: the reality is less “free the nipple” and a whole lot more free hanging balls. Generally guys are just less photogenic in the buff. A notable exception to this was The Peacock we spotted a few times proudly prancing about, always with his water bottle on hand.

Naked'ish

Naked’ish

In 2014 I grew fairly attached to the Subterrafuge structures that towered over the flat plane and was thrilled when weather conditions caused the postponement of its burn to this year. The burn on the Friday night was bittersweet but dignified; the way the one tower fell into itself like a demolished skyscraper was pure artistry. In terms of sheer size the only art that came close to Subterrafuge this year was a piece of performance art involving stilt walkers that had a large devoted crowd following a large balloon that initially looked like a giant sperm cell. Any resemblance to sperm was forgotten as the balloon rose into the air shedding the material attached to reveal a regal trapeze artist. What followed was a performance that worked so perfectly with the elements and on a scale so spectacular, I can’t imagine it working anywhere else but right there, in that moment.   AfrikaBurn 2015 Overall my AfrikaBurn experience was not quite as renewing as last year; trance music pumping at full blast across the dessert way past 8:00 each morning got me down towards the end. There’s a lot more to AfrikaBurn than just a party in the desert, this distracts from that. In the WTF Guide handed out at Die Hek (the gate) there’s one sentence that really struck me: “You look even better than last year**.” I did my best to convince a few in the camp that this sentence was especially written for them. In a culture built on collectiveness, an individual can still shine in a crowd of 10,000. AfrikaBurn: clothing optional, contribution mandatory.AfrikaBurn 2015 * AfrikaBurn is the real word, outside its gates is the default world ** Paraphrasing, my WTF Guide was swallowed up by a black hole in our vehicle Scroll through for amazing images by my Plus One. AfrikaBurn 2015P1380830AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015

This photo was taken by Hennie Niemand with our crappy camera

This photo was taken by Hennie Niemand with our crappy camera

AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015Jana Egg 4 (1 of 1)AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015P1380818AfrikaBurn 2015AfrikaBurn 2015 Sunset I know you want more, click through for other perspectives and more pics of AfrikaBurn 2015:
Hennie Niemand – AfrikaBurn 2015
AfrikaBurn – a journey into the interior

Our AfrikaBurn adventure didn’t end when we left, a few days of decompression in the Karoo pushed the experience over the edge —> AfrikaBurn Decompression: Tankwa NP and the ghost town with cell signal

My post of 2014: AfrikaBurn.

Up the Creek 2015: Rain, OBS cocktails and a medic

Up the Creek 2015 was marked by schizophrenic ups and downs in weather: a scorcher of 30+°C on Friday dropped down to the miserable rainy 20s of Saturday. But through it all the music kept on pumping even if it meant a temporary merging of the Sedgewick’s (River) stage and Hunter’s stage.

UpTheCreekLP

Photo credit: Louise Pieterse

Friday night’s lineup was so solid that any of the bands could have been the headliner. With all their radio play Beatenberg is great in theory but they didn’t really have the grit to capture the hearts of hardcore creekers. Al Bairre paid their dues at the River stage last year and deserved every inch of main stage the band danced over. The only taint on a rocking set by Zebra & Giraffe was that they only played one new song, ‘I’ve Been Bad’ – a shame as their latest album Knuckles is brilliant. The actual headliners Taxi Violence – who along with The Black Cat Bones should never be left off a UTC lineup – had a solid if somewhat egotistical set.

After being woken by bagpipes on Saturday, we spent our morning huddled under a soaking gazebo playing checkers with nuts and washers pieces on a board made up duct tape, and inventing new cocktails with Sedgewick’s (the I will never let go, Jack* was a real winner) while watching our neighbours make brief goosebumpy trips to the river. It was a creeking awesome day, though I’m still jealous of an earlybird’s crimson sunburn earned from a Friday morning float. UpTheCreekCheckers

But Up The Creek isn’t just about its river (okay 99.01%). It also throws together diverse artists for some killer collaborations. Al Bairre and a few of the guys from Nomadic Orchestra performed a bouncy mashup of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Beyonce’s ‘Halo’. Bandolero can only be described as a dynamic musical extravaganza. The 15-odd supergroup led by the excessively charismatic Andre Kriel from The Black Cat Bones had the crowd’s attention with an endless stream of legends, newbies, rockers and blues men on stage including Piet Botha and Gareth Wilson. Every time I blinked it looked like a new band on stage.

Great new finds – and a much needed dose of oestrogen to the festival – included Bye Beneco and Diamond Thug. Bye Beneco had a sophisticated sound overlaid with childish percussion on charming songs such as ‘Vampire’ and ‘Space Elephant’.

UpTheCreekRougeTent

A rouge tent

Being a diligent reviewer I explored an aspect of the festival experience grossly overlooked in my 15+ previous music festivals: the medic station. To the beat of Nomadic Orchestra I took a graceless tumble out of the little Cowgirls’ room and by the time the Plus One got me to the medics, a size 71⁄2 was bursting out of my size 6 Converse.Supplies in the tent seemed rather spare, not even a box of tissues or roll of toilet paper in sight. They won’t sell ice at the bar so I guess it’s your best bet, though I highly recommend not getting injuries that can be fixed with bar ice. The December Streets’ set were very soothing while I waited for the painkillers to kick in. Later my doctor was happy enough with my “care”, even impressed with the bar ice, though he would have preferred a bandaged foot that was kept elevated.

On paper my Up The Creek experience might not look that great, but despite missing out on my annual float down the river and the fact that I’m writing this with an elevated foot, Up The Creek 2015 was a festival to remember.

Yays

  • A generous plate of spit braai with all the trimmings from the friendly people at the Plaas Kombuis at R60 a plate
  • Bar ice
  • Liferafts, Titanics and Icebergs
  • Loyalty from festival goers, organisers and acts. It was Taxi Violence’s 8th
  • Kindness of strangers: a wonderful blonde lady helped me after my tumble and checked on me afterwards.
  • Al Bairre
  • Zebra & Giraffe

    UpTheCreekRiver

    Photo credit: Melanie Carstens

Nays

  • The weather. Excuse me for being Capetonian but Saturday was less than ideal.
  • The roads. Still being scraped on Friday creating dangerous bottlenecks for those arriving in the dark.
  • No free drinking water. And to make it worse Friday’s rate of R5 was doubled on Saturday.
  • Rubber Duc

* Recipe: I will never let go, Jack

  • A splash of Sedgwick’s Old Brown
  • Breakfast Punch
  • Ice Water
  • Ice
  • Celery to garnish

A version of this review was featured on WhatsoninCapeTown.com

How to be the perfect guest at Up The Creek’s 25th B’day

This year marks the quarter century celebrations of Up The Creek. It is very easy to be the perfect guest to the birthday party, just show up with your pre-purchased ticket (there won’t be any available at the gate) and don’t be an asshole. Up The Creek sold outBut wait, there’s more:

Drink to the birthday festival’s health

Through careful planning and general classiness one can easily drink from your car’s boot all weekend. However it is downright rude not to toast the birthday festival with a Titanic and/or Iceberg at the bar at least two times.

Engage in the “friendly” competition

The best float competition is a serious business. Last year’s winners had a floating boerewors braai. Along with bragging rights, best float wins 2x weekend passes for Up the Creek 2016, 2 Kirstenbosch tickets for an upcoming show of your choice as well as Sedgwick`s and Ray-Ban Hampers.

Up The Creek

Up The Creek Photo: Supplied

For the slightly less competitive, Float with the Mostest by piling all your friends onto one float. The float with the most people wins a Titanic for everyone on board.

Beautify

Add to the party atmosphere by pimping your campsite with fairy lights/pretty things, the added bonus is being able to easily find your home away from home after a few rounds of Icebergs.

Trust the organisers’ music taste

No need to play music from your car speaker or phone, even the furthest camps are still able to hear the music from the main and bar stages.

Clean up after yourself

Let the memory of you be all those killer pics on Instagram and not the pile of beer cans on your camping spot.

Up The Creek 2015 takes place 29 January – 1 February 2015.

Read more: Up The Kriek (My adventures at Up The Creek 2014)

Update: Up the Creek 2015: Rain, OBS cocktails and a medic

Festival of Fizz: When the Wine Route visits the Garden Route

This weekend we were those tourists who, despite being in a foreign country, only ate at McDonald’s. Naturally our equivalent was a little more fabulous, Capetonians attending a MCC festival in George.

Chilled bottles of MCC was available for immediate consumption. Credit: Fancourt Facebook page

Chilled bottles of MCC was available for immediate consumption. Credit: Fancourt Facebook page

The inaugural Festival of Fizz was hosted at the heavily gated Fancourt in George. Compared to the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival ‘The ‘Magic of Bubbles, it looked ridiculously tiny with only 16 odd farms. Though this number multiplied quite quickly as hardly anyone asked for a tasting coupon…

I didn’t plan on writing this post so didn’t take any notes of all the different MCCs we tasted. So this merely an oversimplified list of our festival of the festival: Steenberg, L’Ormarins, Genevieve, Tanzanite and Moreson.

In the spirit of trying something new we didn’t visit two farms that were already taking up real estate in our fridge back home, Graham Beck and our “local” De Grendel.

Once you got to the festival tent the organisation was smooth. There was one table to buy the all the MMCs represented and coupons used to purchase the food at the entrance/exit. Tables were placed under the trees for those wanting to enjoy gourmet snacks or a deeper sip of bubbly. Getting to the festival once in Fancout’s gates was a bit vague though. There would have been a better flow if there were dedicated shuttles waiting to transport to and from the parking lot, that or clear signs for those who don’t mind walking.

Saberage with a bottle of De Grendel MCC on our elopement day

Saberage with a bottle of De Grendel MCC on our elopement day in October.  Credit: Greg van der Reis

From previous visits to wine farms and other festivals we have learned quite a bit about the MCC process, so it was great to be schooled one of the lesser known joys of MCC, saberage. Saberage is the art of removing the top of a champagne bottle with a sword/knife, however it can also be done with a butter knife. The Plus One had a level of success with this over the years but hit a bit of a snag of late. The friendly guy from Moreson kindly shared a few pointers. He also pointed us the direction of Genevieve, a MCC he was sampling himself.

There was only one food stand which had exquisite looking bite sized treats. The spring roll was delicious making up for the average sushi plate. Dessert was juicy cream-filled strawberries.

A delicate spread

A delicate spread  Credit: Plus One

The Festival of Fizz was a fun diversion though I believe the tickets at R150 at pop, is quite steep for the value one gets. But even as I wrote the last sentence I knew we will most likely be back, champagne flute in hand, if we’re in the neighbourhood next year.