Cannes nod for SA film

2014-04-24 00:00

Filmmaker Janet van Eeden’s film selected for Cannes Court Metrage

A FILM produced and written by Durban filmmaker Janet van Eeden, A Shot at the Big Time, has been selected for the Cannes Court Metrage, the short film corner of the Cannes Film Festival 2014.

It was chosen from more than a million entries and could win a Palme d’Or if it impresses the short films jury.

“This honour is something my co-producer, Magda M. Olchawska, and I have dreamt of since we joined forces to make A Shot at the Big Time, the short,” says Van Eeden, who lectures at Afda’s Durban campus.

“We met online when I ran the crowd-funding campaign in 2011. I’d given up on the dream recently and am working hard at presently raising funds to make the feature film by the end of the year, so when Magda let me know late last Thursday night that we’d been accepted, I was over the moon.”

Van Eeden launched the crowd-funding campaign for Shot on Remembrance Day 2011, in memory of her brother, Jimmy, who was killed on the border in mysterious circumstances after being there for only three days in 1979.

“I’d never been able to forget Jimmy’s tragic life, and after being challenged by film and theatre critic Robert Greig to write about my own life instead of writing plays about literary greats, I finally had the courage to put pen to paper and tackle one of the saddest experiences of my life,” she said. “Jimmy was my idol in the small town of Odendaalsrus. He was a rock star in the eyes of all the youngsters as he was the lead singer in a band, which dreamed of making the big time.

“When he received his call-up papers when he was only 17, his dream was put on hold. A terrible accident happened and Jimmy had a breakdown, and was classified as mentally unfit for military service. He tried to put his life back together again, but he was broken by the events. Three years later the army forgot about the fact that they’d classified him as unfit and called him up to do border duty. He was part of the infantry but he did not want to kill anyone.

“There are conflicting stories of what happened to him on the border on that fateful day, but all we know for sure is that three days after arriving on the border, my parents received a phone call telling them that Jimmy had been killed by a ricochet bullet.”

When Van Eeden couldn’t get funding for the feature film without giving away the rights completely, she decided to do a crowd-funding campaign and to produce the film herself.

She didn’t raise enough money for the feature on, but did find gifted young director Stephen de Villiers, who lives in Australia but is originally from KZN, and London producer Olchawska. Together they decided to shoot a short film instead. De Villiers flew out in July 2012 to film Shot, the short. A Shot at the Big Time was later selected for the Durban FilmMart in 2012 and the short film premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July last year. It was also awarded an eThekwini Film Award in November 2013.

Olchawska will represent Shot at Cannes. as there has not been enough time to raise sponsorship for Van Eeden’s visit, but hopes the whole team will represent Shot next year when they enter the feature into the festival.

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