MY HUNTER’S HEART – THE MOVIE
Documentary film-makers Damon and Craig Foster are committed to bringing the plight of the Khomani San people to the world’s attention and the Cape Times caught up with the brothers to discuss their latest project, My Hunter’s Heart, produced by Durban-based Videovision Entertainment.
The Foster brothers have made several award-winning films and their latest on the Khomani San, My Hunter’s Heart, is a tender and poignant tale of a people in search of their identity. It focuses on the San of the Southern Kalahari, the oldest indigenous tribe in the world, who are genetically linked to every human being on Earth.
From a young age the Fosters have shown an interest in exploring nature. Craig recalls fondly: “Damon and I grew up in Cape Town, literally on the water’s edge. The first 10 years of our childhood was spent almost every day catching fish, hunting, diving, and so in a small way we grew up as coastal hunter-gatherers. In our late teens we went on a lot of expeditions into Southern Africa and often came across incredible bushman rock art in the veld or caves. It made a huge impact on us. I suppose almost everyone on this planet is a hunter-gatherer under their skin. There was a natural interest in finding out who we are and more about these amazing people. Since I’ve experienced living and hunting with the San, by looking at their lifestyle, the tremendous wisdom and philosophies that come with it, I’ve found it much easier to cope in my life.”
They began producing films on the San in 1998 “with a film called The Great Dance focusing on three great hunters – it’s become a cult film, shown worldwide”.
“We make films about people with extraordinary abilities and they make the film a great experience. We also did a film called Cosmic Africa. A part of it focused on the San’s contribution to African cosmology and astronomy.”
As a result of their appreciation of the San culture, they were approached to work on the latest film about five years ago by Lizelle Kleynhans of the SA San Institute (SASI). “She told us that the main San healers had died in a car accident in the Kalahari. So much of the knowledge regarding the San people had been lost as a result. A small group desperately wanted to recapture the information. They felt it would be important to document this process on film.”
Finding funding for local film projects can be extremely daunting and more so for a documentary on a minority group. The Fosters are very grateful for Anant Singh’s efforts in producing the film.
“Despite the fact that this was not a conventional project with a completed script, he very bravely came aboard. It’s the first time we have worked with Singh. A lot of his films are about minority groups who struggle, so it fitted in with his philosophy. He gave us the initial funding to start production. It was a stop-start process as he set about finding the rest of the funds. We also experienced real trauma when three of the main characters in the film, Sanna Witbooi, Abijol Kruiper and Anna Swartz, passed on close to the end of production. It was very tragic and quite a difficult experience. About three-and-a-half years later the film was completed. It was an extraordinary process. Moreover, it’s been incredible to get support from South Africans and even better is the support that our media is giving to the project. It’s a beautiful feeling.”
Craig says the most gruelling part of the filming by far was the giraffe hunt: “It took about three weeks in about 40º heat. Trying not to disturb the hunters in their process was difficult, but important. We had to clean the cameras at night while they were sleeping, resulting in the crew getting only about two to three hours’ sleep. But the whole feeling in being on one of the last great hunts in the world was awe-inspiring. It’s like experiencing man’s original lifestyle in its purest form. It was a wonderful motivation, just really incredible.”
The film received a warm response from test audiences in India, Europe and South Africa. Craig says it received a very powerful emotional response.
“While it’s a film about the San, the story is universal. All our ancestors were hunter-gatherers in some way and their lives also went through some change over time, but the San have lost their identity at the snap of a finger. There’s just so much one can learn from these people. It’s an incredible existence, but one which has eroded. So that’s what the film tries to capture, this extraordinary moment in history when this amazing lifestyle comes to its final hour.”
iKind Media is proud to be associated with My Hunter’s Heart through the design, implementation and operational functions of the official My Hunter’s Heart movie website. We wish Damon and Craig Foster and Videovision Entertainment great success in taking the Khomani San story to the world.
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