Stiaan Smith in 'Toorbos'. Picture: Facebook
Stiaan Smith in 'Toorbos'. Picture: Facebook

’Toorbos’ director and producer elated it’s SA’s official Oscar 2021 submission

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Nov 18, 2020

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Fingers are crossed for “Toorbos” bagging a nomination for the Oscars 2021.

Days after opening on the big screen in South Africa, the homegrown period drama was submitted as South Africa’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film Award category by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

To contextualise how big a deal this is, the South African Academy Awards Selection Committee, which is made up of industry experts, from various fields within the filmmaker sector, are tasked with going through a list of incredible submissions before arriving at the one they feel the most strongly about.

Set in the 1930s, “Toorbos” follows Karoliena Kapp, played by Elani Dekker.

With South Africa’s Knysna forest as the backdrop, our female forest dweller protagonist finds herself at a difficult crossroad after meeting the man of her dreams - she is forced to chose between the forest she loves or following her heart.

Her inner conflict leads her on an interesting – not to mention unforgettable – adventure.

Writer and director René van Rooyen adapted Dalene Matthee’s top-selling 2003 novel of the same title.

Van Rooyen said she was elated to learn of the movie’s submission to the Oscars.

“It’s an incredible relief and honour, especially with the film currently showing in theatres and the acknowledgement it gives to the incredible cast and crew who really poured their hearts and souls into an extremely challenging project.

“The film tackles pressing topics, including those of feminism in a patriarchal society, the need to heal our broken world through rebuilding our relationship with nature and the destruction of marginalised societies. All themes I’ve been vehemently passionate about for many years.

“This acknowledgement gives the story a global platform to further discuss and further explore.

“I believe it’s sensitive and feminine in its approach and through our team, the wonderfully talented leading lady and the important writings from Dalene Matthee gives a uniquely feminine perspective on the above.”

The movie was mainly shot in the Knysna forest and also in McGregor and Cullinan.

Producer Dries Scholtz added: “The whole ’Toorbos’ team is over the moon with the selection.

“It is a massive compliment for us, there was a lot of hard work put into this film.

“I think ’Toorbos’ was chosen because of the quality of story and filmmaking that people experience when they watch the film.

“I think our strong female protagonist, as well as themes of forceful removals and deforestation, resonates with audiences.

“’Toorbos’ deserves this opportunity not because it is only the second Afrikaans film ever to be selected, but because it is a film made with passion, hard work and a lot of love. ’Toorbos’ is world-class.”

“Toorbos” is the second Afrikaans film to be submitted as SA’s official entry and it is the third time that the entry is helmed by a female director.

“Toorbos” is currently showing at cinemas nationwide.

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