Child actors tackle dark themes in new local flick

2017-06-20 13:29

Cape Town - Nul is Nie Niks Nie, a heart-warming and darkly amusing new film about life, death and everything in between, tells the story of three friends living in a sleepy town – Martin ‘Hoender’ (Jaden van der Merwe), Drikus (Pieter Louw), and Chris (Daniah de Villiers) – who set out to make Drikus’ dying wish come true – to make a zombie movie.

What makes the movie stand out from the slate of local films in recent years is that it revolves around performances by children.

“The story is brought to life through the brilliant performances of a charming and talented young cast,” says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution. “As risky as it can be to hang your film on the performances of teenagers, this film proves that it can pay off handsomely if you cast the right children. Those who have seen Nul is Nie Niks Nie have nothing but praise for the fresh, nuanced portrayals of three troubled youngsters living in an isolated town where nothing much changes.”

More than 400 kids auditioned

The discovery of this young talent seems all the more impressive for having seemingly come from nowhere. “We auditioned more than 400 kids to find our three leads,” says director Morné du Toit. “It was a demanding process, because the actors you cast in a film about young teenagers have to have a level of maturity to cope with the emotional demands of the story, which is at times comical and at times extremely poignant.

“What’s more, from  a director’s point of view, I was also tasked with capturing a different kind of magic; with children, there is a sense of temporality, of catching them at a specific moment in their lives, and of reflecting that with integrity and insight.”

Jaden van der Merwe (Hoender) was the first to be cast and he set the bar, according to Du Toit. “When we saw how he interacted with Pieter Louw (Drikus) and Daniah de Villiers (Chris), we knew we had nailed the casting. All three brought so much depth to the characters they portray,” he adds.

“In many ways, the young characters in this story have a lot to teach the adults who are able to undergo transformation thanks to what they learn from a trio of young misfits. The roles are reversed as the kids become the teachers and mentors”.

 “What is charming about Nul is Nie Niks Nie is the sense of watching real children who have a natural ability, proving that that age and experience don’t necessarily dictate talent,” says Kuun. “It’s exciting to see kids in memorable roles which show that they have acting chops on par with well-known names.”

The rest of the cast include Morné Visser, Marisa Drummond, Antoinette Louw, June van Merch, Kim Syster, Bradley Olivier, and Francois Jacobs.

Watch the trailer here:

The film will be released in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 7 July. 

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