A film about sexual abuse is never an easy sell. But in the hands of the right director and the right cast it has the ability to make you empathize with those at the centre of the story, or perhaps even offer some degree of healing and catharsis. So it is with Die Ek, Anna, an Afrikaans-subtitled film, and the third feature, from South African director Sara Blecher that opened strong at the South African box office this past weekend. It’ll begin showing at film festivals around the world later this week.
It is a story about a girl who shoots her step-father after years of abuse. It’s no spoiler to relay this because it is part of the trailer, and indeed the fictionalised books upon which the film is based, Anchien Troskie’s biographical novels Ek Anna and Die Staat ten Anna Bruwer. The film stars Charlene Brouwer as the adult Anna Bruwer and newcomer Izel Bezuidenhout as the young Anna, with Morne Visser as Danie du Toit as Anna’s stepfather. It’s a testament to Visser’s ability to get under your skin that audiences will find he has come a far way from the comedy series SOS that once ruled the TV-waves.
Dis Ek, Anna unravels for us the how and why of the murder. Like the rainy road Anna travels down in order to commit the crime, the film drives into the not-so-clear territory of taking the law into one’s own hands, accountability, love and the need to protect one’s own soul. There is much that watching Dis Ek, Anna, will lead to talking and thinking about. It’s a story that could so easily be walked away from – face turned away from the screen, but under the deft hand of Blecher, together with her cinematographer, Jonathan Kovel, it becomes a piece of art that wrestles with itself, as Anna finds her voice and her identity.
“This isn’t Hollywood, Anna,” our protagonist is told during the court case, and while this story may be a specific one, based within a conservative Afrikaans setting, it isn’t either, and it doesn’t need to be. Seek it out if you happen to be at The Africa in Motion Festival in Scotland, or the Royal African Society Film Festival in London next month, or any other place showing Dis Ek, Anna.
For more, read an interview with Sara Blecher here.