The story of the brutal attack on Alison Botha is one that must never be forgotten. In 1994, she survived being kidnapped at knife-point, taken to bushes outside of the city, and raped and stabbed by two men more than 36 times.
The film depicts the events of the night as well as the impact the events have had on her life through the years.
I was first reminded of the story when I saw the play “I Have Life: Alison’s Story, 20 Years On,” after which I interviewed Suanne Braun who played Alison, and Zak Hendrikz who played the psychopathic attacker Frans du Toit and who reprises his role in the movie.
The film has achieved the following accolades, so don’t just take it from me it’s going to be good.
Take it from these people too:
- OFFICIAL DANCES WITH FILMS FILM FESTIVAL 2016 official selection – pick of the fest Enclave LA.
- OFFICIAL ENCOUNTERS FILM FESTIVAL 2016 official selection – sold out.
- OFFICIAL CAYMAN ISLANDS FILM FESTIVAL 2016 official selection.
- OFFICIAL DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2016 official selection.
- OFFICIAL ASIA PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL FILMMAKER FESTIVAL AND AWARDS
- NDONESIA 2016 official selection – winner best documentary.
- MZANZI WOMEN’S FESTIVAL 2016 – opening film.
- SILWERSKERMFEES – official selection
- WORLD HUMANITARIAN AWARDS – official selection
- OFFICIAL HUMANITARIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF BARCELONA, PARIS & NEW YORK 2016 official selection.
I want to address the reluctance people may be feeling in seeing a film (released to coincide with Women’s Month) with such a heavy subject matter (especially South Africans who may feel that it’s very close to home). Let’s face it, it’s not an easy story to watch in any form, whether on stage or on screen. But there are a number of reasons that it’s important to support the film and watch it anyway, even though the thought of it may scare us. One is that the rapists keep on coming up for parole and they need to be kept in jail. Keeping the story alive and in the minds of the public will help achieve this. A second is that violence against women is STILL WITH US more than 20 years after the attack on Alison. We think we’re moving towards a more enlightened society, but if women are still being brutalised, we are not. As parents and society we have a responsibility to raise good men, and strong women too to move humanity forward. The fact that these atrocities still occur mean that we haven’t succeeded in this yet. Stories such as Alison’s help imprint how inhumane this type of crime is on the public’s mind, and ultimately bring down the crime rate. And my last point is that it’s not just Alison. It’s Reeva Steenkamp, it’s Khwezi, it’s Sue-Ellen Sheehan, and it’s the 40% of South African women who are raped at least once in their lifetime. So I’m watching the movie. For them.
I’m privileged to speak to Uga Carlini of Towerkop Creations (and thanks to my friends Lornette Joseph and Alison Roberts for contributing questions).
Has making the movie affected you personally and how?
It was up and downs of the most glorious moments (Alison’s bravery and my incredible crew) and soul destroying moments (the pain of the story and so many survivors around us if 1 in every 3 women we know about are raped every 20 seconds in SA) all at the same time but it always ended with hope, with upliftment. With absolute inspiration and awe of the good around us, the good in people and how that MUST remain the focus, no matter what. The bad apples are a handful, and we tend to give them way too much glory, press and airtime. Let’s start doing it for the everyday heroes instead because they take my breath away, drive me and is the reason I made this film.
Why do you feel it’s important to keep Alison’s story in the limelight?
I know some might feel Alison’s story is one of many but that being said, Alison was the first ever South Africa to publically say, “I WAS RAPED”, “THIS IS NOT MY FAULT” AND THAT “I’M GOING TO NAME THEM”. And she hasn’t stopped since, giving a voice to most who don’t have that kind of courage. Her voice is so important; more than what’s obvious – and we need to keep that voice going so other voices can join. In fact, my hope is that we will unite our voices with her, even if we are not survivors ourselves, but for the sake of other survivors so that the voice becomes the biggest ROAR echoing through the planet and galaxies…. The sky should not be the limit!
What made you decide to do this story in particular?
In 1999, someone gave me the book. In the same year I went to listen to Alison speak at my old high school, soon after reading the book. So many people turned up, that they had to move it from the school hall to the rugby fields and there, with Alison so far away from me that she was a mere speck, but with her voice right by my ears from the intercom system, her story changed my life. And when I looked around, I realised, I wasn’t the only one. On a beautiful summer’s evening, in more ways than one, on sportsfield of DF Malan High School in the Northern suburbs of Bellville, I made a pact with myself, that come rain or high water, disappointment or challenge, I WOULD be the one to share what I felt with others through film. And here we are.
Are there parts you would rather have left out / parts you DID leave out?
What’s left out is left out for a reason. It’s about what went in 🙂
The subject of violence against women is something which should be discussed with South Africans, particularly the youth, and perhaps even more particularly, young boys. What is a good way to introduce this dialog to the youth of SA?
I’m a filmmaker, so that’s how I do it. And then there is the #butterflyrevolution… (see below)
The by-line on your email signature is ‘Specialising in female driven heroine stories.’ Is there something that drives you specifically to go for this type of story?
Yes. I love them, they inspire me, they keep me going.
I should imagine after a story like this you may want to do something lighter next. What’s up next for you?
I am still deciding. Either some lions, some mermaids, a car guard with a dream or a chef who made his dream come true….
So how can the public help?
PLEASE GO WATCH ALISON AT NU METRO CINEMAS THIS FRIDAY. It will depend on how many people go in opening weekend for them to keep it on circuit.
And …. please join the #butterflyrevolution:
In the Spirit of Women’s Month 2016, Towerkop Creations & Left Post Production will roll out the #butterflyrevolution campaign on Monday the 1st of August where we asked well loved South Africans, like Justin Bonello, Kim Engelbrecht, Victor Matfield, Elana Africa and Sandra Prinsloo – to name a few – to come on board as ambassadors for the #butterflyrevolution as we take a very personal stand opposing violence against women and children.
By choosing to take action, however small, you can change the course of events. We want to remind everyone that we can inspire each other by being silently brave or publicly revolutionary. Collectively, we all have a responsibility to treat one another with respect. So, this is what we are doing. What about you?
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Find out more about the The Butterfly Revolution.