Film review: A highly deserved Ovation Award for As If The Rain Watched Over Her, at The National Arts Festival 2021

 
What: As If The Rain Watched Over Her, National Arts Festival, 2021 When: July 8, 2021 00:00 – July 31, 2021 23:59 Direct booking link: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/as-if-the-rain-watched-over-her/ Tickets: R25 Genre: Film – dance and performance Duration: 15 minutes Language: English

Nuanced script (dance, acting, filming), in As If The Rain Watched Over Her, a short film (15 minutes) which has been produced by Collegiate Girls’ High School Gqeberha, in association with AFDA Gqeberha and Jacques Batista. Direction is by Jacques Cloete, a lecturer at AFDA Gqeberha. Jacques Batista is head of drama at the school.  The cast features 30 learners from the school. The principal roles are played by Sophie Bradshaw (16 years old – grade 10) and  Ogiy’onke Oliphant (17 – grade 11). They play two sisters. Plot spoiler alert: Maybe it is one sister – and the other one is imaginary or no longer living? Perhaps the one sister has got rid of the other sister so she can have their parents to herself.

How do we image ourselves? How do we perceive ourselves and our identities? Sure, mental health is one aspect of the film- with the possibility of dissociative disorders -the disconnect between reality, memory and identity. However, I think right now, in the pandemic, many of us can relate to how we are all dealing with imaging ourselves in this time of being locked down and locked out from “normality”. Everything is heightened. Many people feel that they are losing themselves, within the close rooms that they are inhabiting.


The film takes place in dark interiors, reminiscent for me of the enclosed spaces of Dutch painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. Each frame is wrapped in a veil of chiaroscuro – a shroud of dark with hints of light. The rain is a character in itself – a presence; a balm? Watch and see how it speaks to you. Director, Jacques Cloete has coloured the frames which intensifies the sense of liminal space and the tug between reality, reality and delusion- the fugue of the mind- dark and light vying without each other.

The film is tagged as “dance” but there is a potent intersection and engagement with performance, narrative and voice. I was astounded by the dance/movement (Batista choreographed), screenplay (Jacques Cloete –working from a concept by Jacques Batista), filming and impressive performances by the young women. It is a 15 minute film and a lot of what comes across, is conveyed by silence; what is not said; gesture and movement, voice.


As If The Rain Watched Over Her has garnered a highly deserved Ovation Award at National Arts Festival 2021. It is an extraordinary achievement for a school production –albeit a film with a professional creative team. Batista and Cloete and the rest of the creative team are highly regarded in the film and media industry. It is brilliant that they are working with young theatre makers and presenting their work cinematically in this innovative film. It is not easy to make a short fiction film – which has dance/movement at its core. The film has stripped down the verbal narrative to its essence and non-verbally is teased out through dance/movement.  It is the body as medium of expression but words also convey volumes. Sophie Bradshaw and Ogiy’onke Oliphant deliver knock-out performances, way beyond what one might expect from learners at a school.  I look forward to seeing more films by Jacques Batista and Jacques Cloete and work by this talented group of young women.

As If The Rain Watched Over Her – short film, directed by Jacques Cloete. Screenplay by Cloete, based on a concept by Jacques Batista. The film features learners from Collegiate Girls’ High School Gqeberha. Image supplied.
 
As If The Rain Watched Over Her – comments by learners in the cast

Sophie Bradshaw

Sometimes it is as if the entire universe aligns perfectly: a mind bending, heart wrenching story, a passionate teacher igniting young minds by allowing them their own voices while nurturing gently, moving choreography, a brilliant crew and a group of girls united in their love for expression through sound, mood, movement and each other.  That was what this journey has been for me – a gigantic puzzle that fell into place perfectly.  Every moment was something I’ll hold in my memory forever.  It’s ignited a hunger for performance in me that I’m sure will lead me into the future.  Thank you Mr B [Jacques Batista] and AFDA. You guys are amazing.

Ogiy’onke Oliphant

Being part of the film was an out of world experience, having being on stage most of my life…filming really felt like I was in a new and very exiting world. My favourite part of the experience was when the weather seemed to have seen the script and acted along with us over the weekend. I’m truly grateful for the lessons I’ve learnt and the achievements we’ve reached so far as a cast

Lathi Mgwebi

Being part of the film made me realise how versatile drama can be, the stage was like a second home to me most of my life so this film has definitely changed my whole view on what drama really is and has actually increased my passion for it even more. My favourite thing about being part of this film was being able to mix my two passions together. It truly was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Winning this amazing reward is like the cherry on top of everything. I couldn’t have been more proud. I’m so grateful to be a part of the cast.  

Kayleigh Killian

It was amazing to be able to get the chance to create a movie. It was a lot of fun. I made a lot of friends. I am so proud of all of us for achieving this award and I am so grateful!  

Kirsty Walker

This whole experience has been amazing, Not just watching the end product but every step of the way has been so so special. Being a part of the behind the scenes; learning little details about the set and what you can create with imagination, camera equipment and lighting! I am so thankful to have been in this incredible film. This Ovation Award is so amazing and I am so so excited to see where the film will go.    

As If The Rain Watched Over Hercreative team:

Concept: Jacques Batista
Producers: Collegiate Girls’ High School in association with AFDA, Jacques Batista
Story: Jacques Batista, Caitlin Wiggill
Director: Jacques Cloete
Choreographer: Jacques Batista
Screenplay: Jacques Cloete
Filming (cinematography and editing): Jacques Cloete
Make up: Alexander Tabisher
Costumes: Jacques Batista, Amanda Foullkes

Original score (dances): Shane Cooper, Francois Le Roux, Kendal Beadon
Original song: “Raindrops”: Debbie Walker
Musicians: Judith Parfitt, Debbie Walker
Vocalists: Kirsty Walker, Lonalunathi Qaba
Recorded by: Richard Campbell

CAST
Sophie Bradshaw (Maria)
Ogiy’onke Oliphant (Elizabeth)

DANCERS

Anoyolo Busakwe
Ashleigh Maling-Nel
Alessandra Tschirschwitz
Miceala van Rhyn
Caitlyn Burton
Lathi Mgwebi
Amy-Leigh Ward
Kirsty Walker
Ava Beary
Taylor Wilson
Charlotte Hutchinson
Mihle Ngqoza
Emihle Ngqoza
Shalynn Buys

ENSEMBLE

Kayleigh Killian
Yolani Oliphant
Jessica Smith
Avuzwa Gotyana
Lilita Gila
Paige Bezuidenhout
Lolwethu Matokazi
Abigail Lacey
Lathita Doyi
Mamelo Ngcwabe
Petra Coltman
Camryn Robinson
Olona Gwili
Lonalunathi Qaba

NOTE: The film premiered at The National Arts Festival-July 8-32, 2021. For information about the film, contact Jacques Batista, via e-mail: ocatoncumin@gmail.com
   

Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/film-as-if-the-rain-watched-over-her-wins-ovation-award-at-its-premiere-at-naf-2021/