Doccie on almost-extinct Boers searches for funds

2013-09-27 13:25
the boers at the end of the world
Cape Town – A documentary feature film about a century-old community of Boers in Argentina has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to start production.

Titled The Boers at the End of the World, the film tells the story of up to 800 Boer families who left South Africa between 1903 and 1908, escaping a recently lost war, concentration camps, and a government they didn’t want. The Boers headed into the heart of Patagonia where they found a land that reminded them of the Karoo - and there, they started a new life.

Today, this outpost still exists. With surnames like Van der Merwe, Kruger, Visser, Botha, Myburgh and Venter, they speak archaic Afrikaans, bake melktert, attend the NG Kerk on Sundays and sing the old Boer songs. But despite their fierce pride in their roots, their culture has been eroded over time, and only a handful still speak their mother tongue.

Documentary filmmaker Richard Finn Gregory has been researching the film for over a year and says the film will focus on one family, whose matriarch still converses in the old language. Her son struggles to understand her when she does, but he has no bigger dream than to visit the country that his mother sings songs about. The film will aim to make his dream a reality.

"I’m fascinated by our true South African stories – so when I heard about this community, I immediately wanted to know more. I couldn’t believe that so few people knew that this community still existed. This is a story that really needs to be told – and soon," said Gregory.

"I’m in close contact with some of the very few people who still speak Afrikaans as their native tongue, and they’ve welcomed me into their homes. With everything in place, it’s time to start shooting."

International appeal

Produced by The Good Work Picture Company, the film’s first steps are being funded through popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. They are looking for $6 000 to film an initial short documentary, which will then be used to secure funding for the feature-length version.

"The outpouring of support has been amazing. Within the first three days of the campaign, we had already had over $2 000 pledged. Clearly the story is resonating with a lot of people. We now need more people to kick in further, to ensure that this film becomes a reality."

Contributors to the campaign are offered various perks, depending on their level of involvement, including DVDs of the film and even production credits.

This is Gregory’s second feature film as director. The first, Crumbs: Toppling the Bread Cartel, recently won a bronze Loerie award and is due for international festival release in 2014.

Gregory believes that The Boers at the End of the World is a film that could have international appeal.
"Being an English-speaking South African, I’m able to approach this documentary with no cultural or political agenda, and simply present the most honest and respectful tale that I can. It’s definitely a story that people find intriguing internationally – the community is seen as a time capsule of what present-day Afrikaans society may have been, on the far side of the world – a parallel world without the intervention of Apartheid in South African society."

The crowdfunding campaign will be running until 16 November 2013, and can be found here.

For more information on the project visit their Facebook page.

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