‘Stam’ (The Tree), a new film written and directed by Louw Venter and produced by the team behind the multi-award winning ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound) will be released on DStv’s BoxOffice in October. 

The film is already generating a lot of buzz in the industry, and is being hailed as uniquely Afrikaans, utterly unpredictable, and without pretention or political correctness in its exploration of the inner world of a set of characters seeking to belong.

There will be a private screening of the film for the industry at the 2020 kykNET Silwerskermfees, which will be held as a three-day webinar, from 2 to 4 September. ‘Stam’ will have its world premiere in competition at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which runs from 10 to 20 September. For the first time in its 41-year history, DIFF will go virtual. ‘Stam’ will also be available on KKNK’s (Klein KarooNasionale Kunstefees) digital screening platform in late September.

‘Stam’ is a choral narrative which follows the interlinked lives of five very different characters over the course of a few hours in inner city Cape Town. “Now, more than any other time in living memory, we are being forced to look at the meaning and importance of human connection, a theme that lies at the heart of the film,” says director Louw Venter. “The pandemic has proved unequivocally that there are inextricable forces binding us together more powerfully than we could ever imagine. We are all part of each other’s stories. ‘Stam’ is an exploration of these invisible chains that bind us.  Connections and relationships that go far beyond familiarity, economics, gender, race or social standing.”

‘Stam’ boasts a strong ensemble cast, lead 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’).

Cape Town too, with its particular brand of tribalism, decay, magic, gentrification, globalisation and regeneration, plays a central role in the film. “It’s a city quite unlike anything anywhere else on earth,” Venter says.

2020 has seen the global film industry pivoting to a virtual experience, and South Africa is no different. “We live in a hyper-connected, mobile world,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution, and distributor of ‘Stam’. “From screening movies at theatres, we are sending audiences to streaming sites, which gives consumers instant gratification. They are in control of what they watch, and how and when they watch it, which is good news for local film as we are seeing an increase in engagement. In terms of character, plot and storytelling, ‘Stam’ is an excellent film that is bound to benefit from this increased amount of viewing time at home.”

The film will follow a new model of theatrical release on BoxOffice in early October. “It’s exciting to be trying something totally new by partnering with BoxOffice for ‘Stam’s’ commercial South African début,” says producer Elias Ribeiro of production company Urucu. “We look forward to the film being so widely available to audiences in the safety and comfort of their homes.”

‘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).