‘Stam’ (The Tree), the new film written and directed by Louw Venter and produced by Urucu, will have its theatrical release on DStv’s BoxOffice on 2 October. The film recently won the award for Best South African Film at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

The film follows the interlinked lives of five vastly different characters over the course of a few hours in inner city Cape Town, and explores a range connections and relationships that go far beyond familiarity, economics, gender, race or social standing. The city too, with its particular brand of tribalism, decay, magic, gentrification, globalisation and regeneration, plays a central role in the film.

The film is generating a lot of excitement in the industry. A uniquely Afrikaans film, it tells a tale that is unpredictable, and without pretention or political correctness, as it explores the psychological world of a set of characters seeking to belong. Writing for LitNet on the kykNET Silwerskermfees 2020, film reviewer Leon van Nierop called ‘Stam’ a ‘wonderful surprise’ that investigates what it means to be Afrikaans across a wide range of communities. He said the film was a courageous investigation of human connection.

Beginning on 7 October, KKNK will be hosting a series of free webinars to talk about the issues explored in the film, including the trauma experienced by caregivers, the widespread problem of gender-based violence in South Africa, and the intricate relationship between connection and addiction. On the panel will be Louw Venter, director of ‘Stam’, cast members Gideon Lombard, Inge Beckman and Jill Levenberg, as well as various medical experts and activists.

  • 7 Oct – Caregivers: Ciska Van Straaten (midwife and nurse), Linzi Thomas (children’s rights activist), Catherine Brown (doula)
  • 8 Oct – Addiction: Mapanya Sodoni (youth addiction counsellor and coach)
  • 12 Oct – GBV: Dr Chiv Gordon (medical educator), Jill Levenberg (actor and cast member), Sherman Pharo (actor)

Journalist and author Marianne Thamm will moderate the sessions on 8 and 12 October. The webinars are open to anyone who is interested in these discussions.

“The panel discussion aims to highlight the unspoken traumas inherent in the act of caring for others, from medical practitioners routinely exposed to humans in crisis and pain, to mothers deprived of rest and self-care,” says Venter. “Perhaps these types of conversations can serve as a vital space for expression. We will also look at why gender-based violence is so ubiquitous in South Africa, why we are unable to stop it, and what are we not saying about it that perhaps we should. Another key theme of the film is addiction as a societal and emotional disease. We will delve into the historical parallels between addiction and enforced separation, and interrogate whether meaningful connection is part of the rehabilitation process.”

 ‘Stam’ features a strong ensemble cast, led by Inge Beckmann (‘8’, ‘The Dark Tower’, ‘Troy: Fall of a City’, ‘Escape Room’), Gideon Lombard (‘Suidooster’, ‘Lien se Lankstaanskoene’, ‘Black Sails’, ‘Twee Grade van Moord’), Tarryn Wyngaard (‘Tess’, ‘Noem My Skollie’, ’Arendsvlei’) Niza Jay (‘Inxeba’, ‘Validictory’), with supporting performances by Armand Aucamp (‘Sterlopers’, ‘Ballade vir ‘n Enekling’, ‘Wat kook by Andre Aucamp’), Nicola Hanekom (‘Sinbad’, ‘Song vir Katryn’, ‘Isidingo’, ‘Charlie Jade’, ‘Fishy Feshuns’, ‘Shado’s’ and ‘Heartlines’), Jill Levenberg (‘Noem my Skollie’, ‘Suidooster’, ‘Rugby Motors’, ‘Final Verdict’ ‘Stokvel’,  ‘A Place Called Home’), and Oscar Peterson (‘Vloeksteen’, ‘Die Byl’, ‘Traffic!’, ‘Suidooster’, ‘Die Boland Moorde’, ‘Swartwater’, ‘Sara se Geheim’ and ‘Parlement Parlement’).

‘Stam’ was produced with the support of M-Net, kykNet, the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa (DTI), the Netherlands Film Fund, the Netherlands Film Production Incentive and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).