Director Jordy Sank and producers Gabriella Blumberg and Samantha Pelteret have knocked it out of the park with their triple win at the kykNET Silwerskermfees, for their film Leemtes en Leegheid.
The trio, along with the cast and crew of the Afrikaans film, won awards for the best short film, audience choice and best script.
Leemtes en Leegheid is a film about an elderly woman who numbs the pain of losing her husband by envisioning him beside her.
As she aims to recover from losing her one true love, Magdaleen, played by Lida Botha, is locked away with his memory in their apartment.
She attempts to venture into the outside world and ends up spending a lot of time along the sea.
The storyline focuses on themes of grief and isolation, mirroring what the last two years have been like throughout the pandemic.
Sank said winning showed them that the film and its messaging, resonated with people.
“This was further recognition and it is gratifying to see that people were moved by this. It feels incredible,” said Sank.
Pelteret said although she couldn’t physically attend the ceremony which was held in Cape Town earlier month, she still felt incredible witnessing it online.
“I feel so proud of the whole team because I know how much hard work everyone put in,” she said.
“Watching the film and hearing the audience cry is an experience that was so special.”
All three filmmakers hail from Cape Town and share a childhood dream of working in film and telling stories.
Last year, Blumberg and Sank worked together on I was Here, a documentary about one of the last living Holocaust survivors. Their debut production won the best South African documentary at the Durban International Film Festival.
Sank said because loss and isolation became recurring themes in the pandemic, it was what resonated with him.
“We all know what it’s like to lose someone to Covid-19 and what it’s like to isolate. I think that working on I Was Here, made me realise how many people are struggling with this today,” he said.
Blumberg said she learnt that storytelling was an impactful way of making a difference.
“When you want to begin a conversation on a difficult topic, it is often easier to engage people with a story first,” she said.
“We have seen how this story of grief and isolation resonated so widely and we hope it brings comfort and closure to those who watch it.”
The script for Leemtes en Leegheid was co-written by Sank and Terrence Makapan. Sank said not speaking Afrikaans meant ensuring that the script was translated without losing its meaning.
“There was a lot of back and forth and he brought his love for theatre to it. We wanted to ensure that the same nuances were translated between the two languages,” he added.
Sank said one of his favourite parts of the film, is exploring the message behind the sea.
“To feel grief and loss can often feel like you’re drowning. Sometimes the water is still and calm and other times it feels like you’re drowning,” he said.
“We want people to know they’re not experiencing loss alone but also that you have to work through healing and acceptance.”
Their advise to aspiring filmmakers is to not create films for the sole purpose of winning accolades.
“The goal should never be recognition. It’s about honing in on the core message of your story and finding people that will help you bring that story to life,” Blumberg said.
Pelteret said: “Being brave and willing to learn from others and about yourself will help you in the long run.
Sank added: “Art is so subjective, so love your work regardless of what people say. There is room for young filmmakers in this country.”