The cast says that it was terrifying sometimes, but with each stroke upstream, they became stronger and braver
THIS year has shaped up to be a big one when it comes to quality local stories that tell tales of everyday South Africans, in bright bursts of colour. Stroomop, filmed in the Northern Cape, is a film about self-discovery, forgiveness, healing and acceptance. As a team, the cast travelled daily with their characters on this life-changing journey of survival and discovered all the wonderful and difficult elements of being a woman with other phenomenal women.
Together they swam rivers, climbed mountains and rowed rapids. The cast says that it was terrifying sometimes, but with each stroke upstream, they became stronger and braver.
Stroomop follows the lives of five unique and diverse women who are all trying to keep their heads above water on the river that we call life, but who are actually busy drowning under the weight of the definition of being perfect… Perfect mother, perfect woman, perfect career, perfect weight and perfect hair (the list can become very long). These are women who are being tossed about in the biggest waves, or who have simply been swept away in an unending stream of worldly expectations and are in danger of completely losing their own identities.
The film features leading lady Donnalee Roberts and is directed by Ivan Botha, best known for his on-screen roles and who is making his directorial debut. It is a sincere and exciting drama about self-discovery, forgiveness and acceptance. The strong, predominantly female cast includes Simone Nortmann, Chanelle de Jager, Carla Classen, Ilse Klink and Armand Aucamp.
Cast member Chanelle de Jager talked to Tonight about women empowerment, filming next to the majestic Orange River, changes in the industry and why we should all see Stroomop.
The film is set in the Northern Cape. Why was this location selected? Stroomop was made for the big screen. The exquisite but barren landscape next to the Orange River offers the perfect backdrop to tell this epic adventure.
During the process of putting the film together, you mentioned struggles with finances and the storyline. What kept you motivated? Dreaming and believing in ourselves. There will always be some sort of struggle, especially with finances, when producing a film. Stories have a way of telling themselves. We as creators were simply the vessels through which the story was told. The constant drive of the team and talented individuals made our dream a reality.
Does the film contribute to the advancement of women? It is divine intervention that the project falls into place with the current women’s movement. Women have always been strong, incredible creatures. I mean, we can make humans! It is something to be celebrated and we know that this gift of the female spirit is celebrated in this film.
What are some of your favourite things about the film and its characters? They are real and authentic. Anyone can relate with them, or know somebody exactly like them. Every single character reveals their innermost vulnerability, like peeling the layers of an onion, and onions make you cry (so please do remember to pack tissues).
What has the process of creating the film made you realise about the country’s film industry – in particular, its support for films that are not stereotypical or reflect women in specifically gendered tropes? South Africa is on the brink of a golden age for the film industry. We are producing films of international standard, with subjects and themes that are universally relatable. We are not making films for only the South African market anymore. We have multi-talented creators that have found a platform from which they can tell their stories, and investors should support that.
What is your favourite scene and why?
When all the ladies took their clothes off and jumped into the river. The scene leaves the viewer feeling free of all physical insecurities that the outside world reflects on women. It is an important reminder that we as women should love ourselves completely first, before we can love others.
Why should women see the film? After the premiers, women came up to me with tears in their eyes and thanked me for inspiring them. One of them said I’d changed her life! I believe in the power of word of mouth, so they will come out in numbers anyway to see the film. It really is that fantastic!
* Stroomop opens today in cinemas.