Local director Ferdinand Van Zyl is putting the final touches on his brand-new film ‘The Recce’. This war drama, scheduled for release on the 28th of September 2018, tells the story of a young Recce, Henk Viljoen, who is wrongfully declared dead behind enemy lines. He must use every resource he has to get home to his distraught wife and family, who are, in turn, fighting their own emotional battles. Ahead of the film’s release, Ferdinand opens up about the new project and why people should go see this exciting and proudly South African film.
Where did the idea for this film stem from?
The idea for the film started in my head when I visualized a soldier dying in a tree, holding a photo of his wife. My fiancé was pregnant with our son at the time, and I drew a lot from that. I knew that our main protagonist had to make his way back to his pregnant wife, who was also named after my fiancé Nicola. So on a personal level, I drew from my family for inspiration, but all in all, this film is also an ode to men an woman who sacrificed body and mind during the border war. I subsequently met with producer Jac Williams, who believed in the dream. That was almost three years ago.
You shot the film in various locations in South Africa. Tell us a bit about how you chose the film’s various locations.
We couldn’t go to Angola, so we had to opt for locations that mimic the warzone. We shot a big part of the film on the Bergrivier farm, in the Eastern Cape. That location was both beautiful, with indigenous forests and tough. Many of the exterior scenes were filmed in the Kouebokkeveld, with its expansive empty vistas. We also shot in the Cedar Mountains, on a private game reserve which burned down, and obviously worked well for a war-torn landscape. We also shot in Kersefontein, which is a very popular location, due to its hauntingly beautiful dry and arid terrain, but also because of its beautiful manor house, which doubled as our protagonist’s childhood home. Other than that, we shot in Worcester, which for the better part, is somewhat of a time capsule, with plenty of 70’s / vintage looking buildings and neighbourhoods that worked perfectly for the era.
The film has an incredible cast as well.
Greg Kriek, played the lead. He was perfect for the role. I believe that Greg is one of those guys that would’ve made the cut back for special forces training back in the day. He is so enthusiastic and professional. He has the physical and emotional range to play almost anything. And we haven’t seen him in this kind of role, which gives me a kick. Christia Visser was perfect for Nicola. She was born to act for the screen. She makes it look so easy, and she makes it real from a very deep place. She is one of the best, and is going to be one of the greats. Marius Weyers plays the General. Marius Weyers is Marius Weyers…he comes in and nails it on the first take, and just keeps on nailing it. Grant Swanby was perfect for Le Roux. He has a lot grace and charm. He is such a sincere person, which makes him perfect for the moral centre of the story. Albert Maritz is also one of the greats. He is always one of the first people I think of when I write. He has such a warm presence, and an interesting face. He was perfect for the father. Elsabe Daneel played the mother. She is perfect in that maternal role, and also is one of the sweetest human beings alive. They don’t make them like her anymore. Maurice Carpede was so awesome. He has such an incredible presence. His voice, the cool and suave manner he conducts himself. Contrary to his welcoming and warm voice over the radio, or for me at least, he had a very dark presence, but that was because his character was dark and foreboding. He channelled Impi so well. It was probably the most layered and difficult character to play in the whole film. Again, we’ve never seen him in a role like this.
Why should readers go and check out this film?
People will be presented with a new cinematic language, to a personal cinema that has, for a long time, been lacking locally. We are experiencing an incredible new wave in local cinema at the moment, with so many incredible local artistically driven movies coming out. ‘The Recce’ falls perfectly in that mould. ‘The Recce’ is a film that defies genre, it’s a personal film about survival, love, duty and sacrifice.
‘The Recce’ premieres in cinemas across South Africa on the 28th of Septemb