Oliver Schmitz, director of the award winning SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS won the coveted Best Achievement in Directing prize at the 11th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) last night.
Produced by Anant Singh and Brian Cox (who also wrote the screenplay), the film stars 2017 SAFTA nominees Garion Dowds and Deon Lotz who received nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectfully, as well as Academy Award® nominee, Steve Coogan (‘Philomena’) and Andrea Riseborough (‘Birdman’). The film also features well-known South African talent including Robert Hobbs, Eduan van Jaarsveldt, Marcel van Heerden and Sylvia Mdunyelwa.
In a statement on winning the award, Schmitz who is currently in Germany said:
“I thank you for this honour and apologise profusely that I cannot be with you, I am shooting at the moment and that made it impossible for me to come. I salute my fellow nominees and the new generation of directors in South Africa who mare making big strides despite the difficulties and uncertainties that mark our profession.
SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS was a hard film to make as a director because it deals directly with white violence in apartheid and a challenging one to watch, especially by all who suffered at the hands of it, maybe more so even now because South Africa is still trying to heal the wounds of its damaged past. But if we always made films that are popular we would censor our desire to tackle difficult things. I believe that in order to strive for a better society it is important to also look at the worse one behind us, to see how much we have achieved, to see how far we have come and not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. I am proud of SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS and all the creativity that went into its making.
I thank Anant for his tenacity, courage and perseverance, my wonderful cast and team for their talent and dedication and Brian for always being there to think, rethink and his laconic sense of humour. I thank you all and I am humbled by this award, thank you very much.”
Producer, Anant Singh said, “Whilst the film deals with the controversial issue of capital punishment, Oliver crafted an amazing film with sensitivity and care. We congratulate Oliver on this wonderful achievement. We also congratulate the production team, including those who received SAFTA nominations for their contributions to the film.”