South African writer-director René van Rooyen’s Toorbos will be the country’s official entry for the prestigious Best International Feature Film Award at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.
The film is an adaptation of Dalene Matthee’s best-selling novel, of the same name, which was published in 2003.
The period piece, set in 1930s South Africa, investigates the uprooting of a young woman during the final days of the Knysna forest dwellers. It relates the story of the intimate relationship of a ‘forest woman’ and the heart of the forest and how it proves to be an obstacle between her and the man she loves.
Toorbos proved to be the best entry in a lineup that included local films such as Flatland, Fiela se Kind, STAM and Wesens.
The decision was made by the South African Academy Awards Selection Committee which is comprised of professionals from various spheres of the film industry.
The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced that Toorbos was selected on Tuesday, November 17.
The NFVF, as an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, is officially recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to make submissions on behalf of the South African Film industry.
Congratulations to Rene van Rooyen’s “Toorbos” which is South Africa’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film Award for the 2021 Academy Awards.
— National Film & Video Foundation (@nfvfsa) November 17, 2020
“Toorbos’ success serves as great testament of this classic novel and our history as a country. Our filmmakers play a significant role in preserving our history and René has managed to capture Dalene Mathee’s novel immaculately,” said NFVF CEO, Makhosazana Khanyile in a statement.
“The story of Toorbos is about a historical event in South Africa, which affected the last forest inhabitants of South Africa’s Knysna forest in the 1930s. We wish René and her team all the best as their film will be competing on global stages. South Africa is rooting for you.”
Dries Scholtz, a producer on the film, said that the entire team is honoured that the movie has been selected to represent South Africa.
“COVID-19 has severely impacted our arts in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. This is an amazing tribute and opportunity for our local film industry,” said Scholtz.
Toorbos was awarded at the Cape Town International Market and Film Festival, where it won the award for ‘Work in Progress’ (WIP) programme. It has also been selected to be shown at the Torino Film Festival in Italy in November 2020.
“Toorbos not only highlights the importance of finding balance in the tug of war between the masculine and feminine, but also in the urgent need to heal our broken world, by reconnecting to nature,” explained van Rooyen.
“The submission gives the film spotlight in the global arena, an absolute dream come true for the project. We are truly humbled.”
The film is only the third South African entry by a female director for the Oscars, since 1989.
South African director Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi won the Best International Feature Film Award at the Oscars in 2005.
Toorbos made its box office debut on Friday, November 13 and is currently showing at cinemas nationwide.
Watch the trailer: