For the fun of it

2014-04-17 00:00

SUPPORT home-grown movies by getting off the couch and heading down to the cinema to see Konfetti, writer and actor Louw Venter says of the film, which opens in Durban today.

The comedy romance is based on Venter’s one-man play, The Best Man’s Speech, and tells the story of best man Lukas Basson, who has the best intentions to keep things together for the first time in his life, and how all the colourful personalities at the wedding of his best friends, Jean Voster (Nico Panagio) and Sherryl Lieberman (Casey B. Dolan), as well as the stress and emotions surrounding the big day, thwart his plans.

It doesn’t help that Jean is Afrikaans and his bride-to-be is Jewish, ensuring there are plenty of cultural differences between the families, or that the wedding singer is the bride’s high-school nemesis.

Add to that a lost wedding ring and a Rastafarian priest, and it’s a wonder that Jean and Sherryl manage to get to the altar at all.

Asked how he first came up with the idea, Venter, who plays Lukas, said: “I needed to write a show because I needed some work … you know how it is.

“I wanted to do something simple, something succinct ... then I thought about the best-man’s speech at a wedding and that the audience in a theatre could become the guests who are listening to a story and discovering characters through that speech.

“The play stems from one particularly bad Jewish wedding that I went to after I met my wife [who is Jewish]. There was a spectacular incident where the bride’s brother completely lost it and made a spectacle of himself. It was only when I got married myself that I started to understand the stresses and emotions involved in the ‘Big Day’.

“I think that when you write something you always draw on things you know. I guess you could say that both the play and the film have an autobiographical aspect because I’m an Afrikaans guy who married a Jewish woman. It meant that I was able to have a great amount of empathy for the characters.”

Venter and the film’s director, Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat, of Light and Dark Films, [producer of Confessions of a Gambler, Master Harold ... And the Boys, Skeem and Jimmy in Pienk], shared the writing duties on the film and when they penned the characters they already had actors in mind.

“We definitely wrote certain parts for certain people … Casper de Vries, Kim Engelbrecht, Nico [Panagio],” Venter said. “Nico and I work so well together and he just perfectly fits the character of Jean … he’s so handsome.

“Casper and I have also worked together and we really have a nice chemistry and Kim [who plays Bianca] is just really beautiful and a solid actress, who is funny as well.”

Venter, who can also be seen on Swartwater on SABC2 at the moment, said he also enjoyed working with actors Paul Ditchfield, Annabel Linder and Nicholas Ellenbogen, who he said had inspired him when he was a young man.

Asked how challenging it has been to bring the film to the big screen, he said it has been a long journey, and that they are grateful for the support they have received from the Department of Trade and Industry, M-Net and KykNet.

“It’s very positive that television companies are getting involved in making movies in SA,” he added.

The film’s three-week shoot on Blaauklippen wine farm in Stellenbosch proved to be a lot of fun, however, despite the fact that the cast froze while filming the summer wedding scenes in freezing temperatures.

“We’re a bunch of very funny people, so we had a lot of fun,” Venter said. “Now we just need to get people to go to see it. I really believe people will enjoy it and that they will have a great time.”

The film certainly seems to have a special quality: it has been accepted for the Beverly Hills and Julien Dubuque international film festivals in California and Iowa, respectively.

What’s more, Dolan has been nominated for the coveted best-actress award at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, which runs between April 23 and April 27.

“I am so poud of everything we have achieved with this film and everyone involved in making it. I can’t wait to share it with everyone in South Africa. It’s dream-come-true stuff,” Venter said.

• arts@witness.co.za

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