Striking South African film ‘My Father’s War’ opens in cinemas this weekend

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Edwin van der Walt in ‘My Father’s War’. Photos: Jennifer Wheatley

The new South African film, My Father’s War, which will be released nationwide on August 5 is a bilingual drama which focuses on the broken relationship between a father and his rebellious teenage son. 

Set in 2003 it centres on 19-year-old Dap Smit (Edwin van der Walt), who is constantly fighting with his father, Dawid (Stian Bam), a veteran of the Border War. The men don’t see eye to eye on anything, and there seems to be no hope for reconciliation between them. Dawid’s wife, Karina (Erica Wessels) is caught in the middle of their epic battle.

Then Dap has a series of dreams in which he is a combat soldier in the Border War in the 1980s. There he meets his father at the same age, and those dreams turn young Dap’s perception – and life – completely upside down. There’s no going back. But what is the way forward?

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Producer, Peter Lamberti, and writer/director Craig Gardner, said the biggest challenge faced during the film was to combine the theme of a broken relationship with the Border War – in other words, how to overcome the gap between a father and his son when the war occurred almost thirty years ago.

To achieve this, Gardner introduced the instrumental dream sequences. He says: “Each dream was created to facilitate the unfolding story. Therefore, there are no gratuitous battle scenes. Rather, the war dreams are microcosms of real events married with fiction in order to reveal character or advance the storyline – little ‘mini-stories’ within the bigger story.”

Gardner continues: “The war has been used as a creative device to drive the story of the father and son towards a conclusion. We purposely do not take a moral standpoint on the conflict itself. This is not a Border War movie – it is a relationship drama, which is at the core of virtually every successful movie. And My Father’s War centres on the broken relationship between a father and his son.”

The filmmakers added: “We are hoping to reach as broad an audience as possible but most certainly wish for anyone who was touched by the war: soldiers, wives, husbands, children and parents to see it.

“It will hopefully be a cathartic experience, bringing back memories, exorcising ghosts and helping to bring more understanding and emotional healing to viewers – even those who had absolutely nothing to do with the war. Any parent and child will be able to relate to it on a personal level.”

Speaking about the film, Edwin said it was a very personal experience for him and that he learnt a lot about love, relationships and the truth.

“This film forms part of a specific season in my life and to play with my mentor, Stian Bam, was and will always be one of the highlights in my career,” he added. “It was a challenging process, but really enriched all of us. Craig Gardner constantly played pranks on all of us and we had a lot of fun, but when we worked, everyone gave 120%.”

As for his hopes and expectations for the film Edwin says: “I hope and trust that this film will be a step in the right direction for people to heal personal relationships.  I hope that everyone learns more about the Border War and about the effect that it had on our Grandfathers, Brothers and Fathers.

“I hope that when my own dad, that was also part of the Border War watch this film that he will feel like a HERO”.

Apart from Stian Bam, Edwin van der Walt and Erica Wessels, the movie also stars Neels Clasen, Hannes Muller, Meren Reddy, Fumani Shilubana, Jai’prakesh Shewram and David Rees.

Watch the trailer for My Father’s War here:

Keep up to date with the film through the Facebook page myfatherswarmovie, or follow it on Twitter: @myfatherswar and Instagram: Myfatherswar




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