René van Rooyen's 'TOORBOS' is officially this year's South African entry for the highly coveted Best International Feature Film Award for the2021 Academy Awards. The film which is an adaptation of renowned writer Dalene Matthee's 2003 best-selling novel of the same name, is currently on circuit in South African cinemas.
Competition was tough and the South African Academy Awards Selection Committee, comprising of professionals from various fields of the filmmaking value chain evaluated several diverse, rich, and unique submissions from the 2 - 5 of November 2020 at Nu Metro Cinemas across the country.
René's film has seen great success at the Cape Town International Market and Film Festival, having won the award for 'Work in Progress' (WIP) programme. The film has also been selected or the Torino Film Festival in Italy, November 2020. It is only the third South African entry by a female director for the Academy Awards, since 1989.
"It is an honour for our entire team that our film has been selected to represent South Africa. Covid-19 has severely impacted our Arts in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. This is an amazing tribute and opportunity for our Local Film Industry." says producer, Dries Scholtz.
Starring Elani Dekker in the lead, TOORBOS investigates the uprooting of a young forest woman during the time of the final forest dwellers of South Africa's Knysna forest of the 1930's. It tells a story between the intimate relationship of an initiated 'forest woman' and the heart of the forest and how it becomes an obstacle in her experience of the man she loves.
Director René van Rooyen explains how "Toorbos not only highlights the importance of finding the balance in the tug of war between the masculine and feminine, but also in the urgent need to heal our broken world, by reconnecting to nature. The submission gives the film spotlight in the global arena, an absolute dream come true for the project. We are truly humbled."
The NFVF, as an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture is officially recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, to make submissions on behalf of the South African Film Industry. "TOORBOS' success serves as great testament of this classic novel and our history as a country. Our filmmakers play a significant role in preserving our history and René has managed to capture Dalene Matthee's novel immaculately. The story of TOORBOS is about a historical event in South Africa, which affected the last forest inhabitants of South Africa's Knysna forest in the 1930s. We wish René and her team all the best as their film will be competing on global stages. South Africa is rooting for you,'' said NFVF CEO, Makhosazana Khanyile.
TOORBOS speel af in die 1930's in die tyd van die laaste bosbewoners van die ongelooflike Knysna-bos. Dit vertel die verhaal van Karoliena (Elani Dekker), 'n jong boskind wat in armoede gebore word en in soortgelyke omstandighede grootword. Sy is die enigste dogter van 'n onsimpatieke en haatdraende ma. Haar liefdevolle pa sterf wanneer Karoliena sewe jaar oud is, waarna sy die bos as haar enigste voog 'aanneem'.
Sy word 'n slim en pragtige jong vrou wat gou die aandag trek van Johannes (Stiaan Smith), 'n suksesvolle besigheidsman van die dorp wat haar belowe om haar weg te neem van haar armoedige bestaan. Betower deur hom en die vooruitsigte van sy lewe, stem sy in om na Knysna toe te gaan waar sy opgelei word om 'n gerespekteerde dame te word.
Maar die dorp en die bos is in skrille kontras met mekaar. Die bos is magies, mities en spiritueel. Die dorp draai rondom 'n selfsugtige soeke na geld. Wanneer Karoliena besef dat sy haar kosbare vryheid vir 'n hok verruil het, is dit te laat - en sy is vreesbevange. Kort ná haar troue loop sy weg terug na die bos toe. Johannes spoor haar daar op en onthul dat die bos se dae getel is, aangesien die regering binnekort beplan om van al die bosinwoners ontslae te raak.
TOORBOS volg Karoliena terwyl sy vasgevang is tussen haar liefde vir die bos en die man waarmee sy getroud is, terwyl sy probeer om die hindernisse op haar reis te oorkom om te kan besluit waar haar plek in die wêreld werklik is.
“So bly dat TOORBOS ná vier jaar die lig sien, en veral nou dat daar 'n lig in die virus-tonnel is.” - André Scholtz, Vervaardiger.
“Ek is ongelooflik opgewonde om TOORBOS uiteindelik vir die publiek te wys. Dit is werklik een van die grootse films van ons tyd.”- Dries Scholtz, Vervaardiger.
“TOORBOS is gemaak vir die grootskerm. Die kinematografie, meesleurende klank en pragtige omgewing is geskep om vir gehore 'n betowerende ervaring gee. Dit is 'n groot voorreg om uiteindelik die film in teaters uit te reik.” - René van Rooyen, Skrywer en Regisseur.
TOORBOS is ook gekies as een van die films wat speel by die 38ste Torino Filmfees in 2020.
TOORBOS is set in the 1930s in the time of the last forest dwellers of the incredible Knysna forest. It tells the story of Karoliena (Elani Dekker), a young forest child born in poverty and raised in similar circumstances. She is the only daughter of an unsympathetic and hateful mother. Her loving father dies when Karoliena is seven years old, after which she 'adopts' the forest as her only guardian.
She becomes a smart and beautiful young woman who quickly draws the attention of Johannes (Stiaan Smith), a successful businessman from town who promises to take her away from her poverty-stricken existence. Spellbound by him and the prospects of his life, she agrees to go to Knysna where she is trained to become a respected lady.
However, the town and the forest are in stark contrast with one another. The forest is magical, mythical and spiritual. The town is based on a selfish search for money. When Karoliena realises that she exchanged her precious freedom for a cage, it's too late - and she's terrified. Shortly after her wedding she runs away to the forest. Johannes finds her and reveals that the forest's days are numbered, since the government plans to get rid of the forest dwellers soon.
TOORBOS follows Karoliena as she is trapped between the forest and the man she is married to, while she tries to overcome the obstacles of her journey to decide where her place in the world truly is.
“So happy that TOORBOS will see the light after four years, and especially now that there's light in the virus tunnel.” - André Scholtz, Producer.
“I'm incredibly excited to show TOORBOS to the public at last. It is truly one of the greatest films of our time.” - Dries Scholtz, Producer.
“TOORBOS is made for the big screen. The cinematography, mesmerising sound and beautiful environment have been created to give audiences an enchanted experience. It's a privilege to release the film in theatres at last.” - René van Rooyen, Writer and Director.
TOORBOS has also been chosen as one of the films to screen at the 38th Torino Film Festival in 2020.