Filmmaker who keeps the faith
‘Cinevangelist’ Regardt van den Bergh to receive international award
REGARDT van den Bergh has a string of great movies behind his name, but the South African filmmaker is probably still best remembered for local classics like Vyfster and Boetie Gaan Border Toe.
The 56-year-old, whose career spans nearly 30 years, is set to become the first South African recipient of the prestigious Ischia Global Award in recognition of his contribution to the arts industry.
The award, annually presented during a film and music festival in the Isle of Ischia, Italy, honours success in the fields of films, arts and culture, as well as the entertainment and fashion industries.
Among the big Hollywood names who have previously participated in the event are Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone.
Van den Bergh, who said he was “blown away” by the award, will formally be honoured at the festival in July.
He has had three major films released in the past few years, including Hansie, the biopic of South Africa’s fallen cricket hero, Hansie Cronje. Although the film, written by Hansie’s brother, Frans, did not make it as big as expected, there is nothing holding back this highly religious and ambitious man.
Last month his latest film, shot in the Kalahari, Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer, was shown on the South African circuit.
The story is based on the lives of Barrie Burger and Pierre van Rooyen and stars Quentin Krog, Danny Keogh and Van den Bergh’s daughter, Leán.
Born into a filmmaking family, the son of Afrikaans actors Gert and Dulcie van den Berg — she famous for her role as Tant Stienie in the soapie Agter Elke Man— acting and directing came “naturally” to Van den Bergh.
He believes his passion for his job is the driving force behind his success.
“It all really started with the Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin silent movies. I grew up in a family of artists and had a great advantage,” he said.
Starting as an actor when he was just 15 in the role of a juvenile delinquent in Die Kandidaat, Van den Bergh became a star on television and soon progressed to directing.
“I lost all my hair . . . I looked like a jelly baby,” he joked while explaining his transition from an actor to a director.
He made his debut as director at the age of 28 with Boetie Gaan Border Toe and the highly successful television series and later a film, Vyfster.
In 2006 he made Faith Like Potatoes, an adaptation of evangelist Angus Buchan’s bestseller.
Set in KwaZulu-Natal and based on events in the life of Buchan, the film describes the moving journey of a man who, like his potatoes, grows his faith, unseen until the harvest.
Religion is a theme generally evident in his films, but Van den Bergh has no qualms about being labelled a “cinevangelist”.
A Christian and strong believer, he said his faith placed him in a “wonderful position” to spread the Gospel through his films.
“My religious life is very important and if, through my films, I can make a difference, then that is great.”
He said that he drew strength from his convictions.
— firstname.lastname@example.org DADDY’S GIRL: Van den Bergh with his daughter, Leán, on the set of his latest film, Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer
SPREADING THE GOSPEL: South African movie director Regardt van den Bergh says his faith places him in a ‘wonderful position’