Film­maker who keeps the faith

‘Cinevan­ge­list’ Re­gardt van den Bergh to re­ceive in­ter­na­tional award

Sunday Times - - News - CHAN­DRÉ PRINCE

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.

— princec@sun­ 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’

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