Widow con­fronts killer gi­raffe

Film-maker’s wife gets a sense of his last ter­ri­fy­ing sec­onds

Saturday Star - - NEWS - MIKE BEHR

THE GRIEVING widow of the award-win­ning The For­got­ten King­dom cam­era­man head-butted by a gi­raffe came face-to-face with her hus­band’s “killer” this week while vis­it­ing the scene of the bru­tal at­tack.

“It was a to­tally un­ex­pected shock that scared me and made my blood run cold,” said Joburg mother of two Dina Car­valho de­scrib­ing the trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence of meet­ing the gi­raffe, Ger­ald, at Glen Afric, a coun­try lodge in the North West.

“Ger­ald was be­hind a flimsy fence. He looked ag­gres­sive and paced up and down, and then stopped sev­eral times and pushed against the fence al­most like he wanted to get at me.

“But I wanted to feel what my hus­band must have faced in those last ter­ri­fy­ing sec­onds of his life.

“I wanted to get in touch with his last en­counter with this world, so I paced with Ger­ald whose size and height was over­whelm­ing.

“The whole time we paced, Ger­ald never took his eyes off me. So I just stared back at his rest­less eyes and the horns that killed Car­los, think­ing about that aw­ful mo­ment he struck my hus­band.

“I felt numb, de­fi­ant and in­cred­i­bly sad all at the same time.”

Dina’s in­ter­ac­tion with the an­i­mal came af­ter spend­ing sev­eral emo­tion­ally drain­ing hours on the set of Ger­man film Pre­mium Nanny 2 lis­ten­ing to the film crew and a Glen Afric wran­gler give ac­counts of how her 47-year-old hus­band was killed last Wed­nes­day.

At one stage, she broke down at the spot where her hus­band was smashed across the head and sent fly­ing four me­tres through the air.

Car­valho landed in a crum­pled heap, with blood pour­ing from his eyes, nose and ears.

A few hours later, he was de­clared dead at Joburg’s Mil­park Hospi­tal af­ter suc­cumb­ing to ex­ten­sive fa­cial and skull frac­tures and se­vere brain in­juries.

De­spite Car­valho’s bru­tal death, which trau­ma­tised crew mem­bers, Cape Town-based Two Oceans Pro­duc­tions did not halt shoot­ing the Ger­man movie and even con­tin­ued film­ing while Dina toured the set.

“When I stood where Car­los lay dy­ing lis­ten­ing to how Ger­ald had cir­cled him and his unit, I was struck how vul­ner­a­ble and un­pro­tected he must have been,” said Dina.

“Look­ing through the viewfinder with his head down must have in­ter­fered with his per­cep­tion of the ap­proach­ing dan­ger.

“He couldn’t have re­alised that this huge wild an­i­mal that he had filmed be­fore was clos­ing in on him,” she added.

A dread­ful phone call, not from the set but his Cal­lacrew em­ploy­ment agency – over an hour af­ter the at­tack and while he was be­ing air­lifted – “com­pletely shat­tered” Dina and her young chil­dren.

“We are all strug­gling to cope.

“What’s made it even harder to bear is read­ing all the al­le­ga­tions from Glen Afric and Two Oceans Pro­duc­tions in the me­dia that Car­los was be­ing a cow­boy and film­ing unau­tho­rised and that he even called the gi­raffe to­wards his unit.

“They blamed Car­los from the word go and that has been re­ally dif­fi­cult to swal­low while we mourn.

“Glen Afric told jour­nal­ists that Car­los ‘got in Ger­ald’s face’ and was try­ing ‘to prove a point’.

“Be­sides be­ing in­cred­i­bly cal­lous, noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. My hus­band was a quiet, gen­tle and rev­er­ent man widely re­spected in the film busi­ness.

“He didn’t get to be a top di­rec­tor of photography by be­ing reck­less.

“The facts as I’ve heard them from eye­wit­nesses are that Car­los was sent by his di­rec­tor to get some wide scenic shots.

“Glen Afric an­i­mal wran­glers left Ger­ald unat­tended and (he) was al­lowed to at­tack my hus­band even af­ter the an­i­mal wran­gler was ra­dioed by Car­los’s unit di­rec­tor to re­move Ger­ald when he sud­denly ap­peared out of the bush.

“And trag­i­cally no one called me to Car­los’s side even though is partly mir­rored in the pop­u­lar ITV se­ries Wild At Heart.

Shot en­tirely at Brook­ers, the UK show ran for seven se­ries from Jan­uary 2006 to De­cem­ber 2012.

Car­valho won a num­ber of awards since he be­gan his ca­reer as a run­ner in 1992.

They in­cluded a Sil­ver Lion at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in 2003 for a pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ment for Child­line and a 2014 African Movie Academy Cin­e­matog­ra­phy Award and the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy at the 14th Woodstock Film Fes­ti­val Mav­er­ick Awards Gala in New York for The For­got­ten King­dom.

I stared at his eyes and the horns that killed Car­los No one called me to Car­los’s side even though he was dy­ing

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