Durban film wins acting, art awards

2009-03-01 00:00

A FILM about the real-life experiences of Durban lifeguards has won four prizes at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards.

Bay of Plenty won the awards for Best Full-length Drama and Best Ensemble Cast; Thomas Gumede was voted Best Actor and Anita van Hermert was rewarded with the Best Art Drection accolade at the ceremony held recently in Pretoria.

“Durban can be extremely proud of this achievement,” Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office said. “Not only because it was made locally, but because it utilised the skills of a number of local professionals, such as line producer Laurette Marais and assistant director Thabani Gigaba, under the leadership of executive producer Sara Blecher and award-winning director of photography, Mike Downie.”

Bay of Plenty was filmed over five months in 2007 and is based on the experiences of a group of lifeguards at south beach.

“During the struggle years, when most municipal swimming pools were closed to black people, a pool in Lamontville was the only exception,” Monty explained.

“It was managed by a ‘tough’ man who pulled children off the streets, taught them to swim and put them through a strict training regimen,” he added. “Years later, when the Ethekwini Municipality was looking for black lifeguards to work on Durban’s beaches, a large number of the recruits came from the Lamontville pool.

“The lifeguards are heroes who jump from helicopters to save drowning members of the public, face the large and often hostile crowds that gather on Durban beaches over the festive season and deal with petty theft, drugs, lost children and the dramas at sea. Bay of Plenty not only portrays these heroes in action, but also gives us a look at their personal lives, loves and heartaches.”

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