The Silwerskermfees (Silver Screen Festival) from KykNET was held at Theatre on the Bay and The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, Cape Town over the weekend. A pristine beachfront suburb in Cape Town with several great screening venues within close proximity, it’s South Africa’s version of Cannes.

While the ninth festival, this was Stephen Aspeling’s first Silwerskermfees, which saw him watching Buddha in Africa, Knuckle City, Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer and Toorbos. Attending the awards ceremony and speaking about the forthcoming releases, Spling tweeted ” based on what I saw and the level of competition, the future of film is alive and thriving in South Africa.”

Having advised on Toorbos, there was an extra dimension to the first public screening of the film. Having seen an earlier cut, it was quite amazing to see the final cut from writer-director Rene van Rooyen. The coming-of-age period romance drama is an adaptation of Dalene Matthee’s book of the same name, which means Enchanted Forest. Dealing with a young girl’s journey from her upbringing among an impoverished community of woods folk to the more sophisticated society.

Toorbos is a melancholic, haunting and beautifully crafted coming-of-age period drama – swathed in powerful themes, poetic imagery and immersive world-building. The audience sat in stunned silence as the film enveloped them in the magical yet gritty world of Toorbos.

It’s a wonderful achievement and Spling made a point of congratulating van Rooyen ahead of the awards ceremony, where Toorbos was nominated for Best Actor and Best Picture. While Christiaan Olwagen’s Poppie Nongena swooped in to win almost everything, it just speaks to the depth of amazing film talent South Africa has to offer.

To be quite frank, van Rooyen’s haunting film is next-level and was compared with The Grapes of Wrath at the Q&A following the screening. The writer-director has left her mark with her first passion project, which bodes well for her future as a film-maker.

Some of Spling’s capsule reviews of other films he saw over the weekend via @MovieCriticSA on Twitter…

Buddha in Africa is an eye-opening, remarkable, immersive and frank documentary about the grey area around an impoverished local boy’s indoctrination into Chinese culture at a kids care centre in Malawi.

Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer is an authentic, haunting, stellar, picturesque and quietly stirring drama with multi-genre vibrations and old world pacing.

Knuckle City has in-your-face attitude and doesn’t pull any punches… energetic, full tilt, visceral and packing heat… it’s a blistering boxing crime thriller with a live wire ensemble.

Spling Attends ‘Toorbos’ Screening at Silwerskermfees
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