National Arts Festival: Day Three

Thinkfest was first up on A Feast of Tales’s agenda on day three of the NatArtsFest with a discussion on Gender Politics. The hour’s dialogue indicated that this rhetoric-laden topic still favours too much – well – dialogue and too little practical application. An over-aggressive approach also emerged as a problem. Number two on our schedule was the dialogue-heavy House of Truth in which actor, Sello Maake kaNcube, told the story of writer Can Themba and his struggles during apartheid to be recognised as a teacher. The drama had a good script but was depressing and failed to hold the audience’s attention for its overly long 90-minute duration. Hannah Arendt was another ‘struggle’ piece, though this time in the form of a movie. Like the Sophie Scholl film we saw on day two, Hannah Arendt presented a view of Nazi Germany somewhat different to what we were used to. In this story German-Jewish philosopher and author, Hannah Arendt, wrestled with the problem of evil, putting forward the – scandalous – ideas that German perpetrators of crimes in World War II may simply have failed to think and that Jewish victims may have been complicit in their own victimisation. Our day ended with the brilliantly executed The Echo of a Noise by Pieter Dirk-Uys, in which this renowned performer gave an autobiographical account of his life, revolving mostly around his combative relationship with his ‘Pa’. Rich, funny, tender and well-rounded, Uys’s performance was very deserving of its standing ovation.


Risen: A Film about Jesus through the Eyes of a Roman

Just in time for the Christian holiday of Easter Ster Kinekor South Africa is releasing the film Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis.

Risen, as you might have guessed, tells the biblical story of Jesus of Nazareth who died and inexplicably rose to life again, confounding the Jewish and Roman authorities in attendance at the time. Rather than a story about Jesus or Yeshua, though, Risen is the tale of one man’s response to Jesus: that of the Roman Tribune, Clavius (Fiennes).

Ralph Fiennes and Tom Felton in Risen. Photo:


The film actually opens with Clavius presiding over his men quelling a small rebellion in the dusty land of Israel. Viewers get to see Roman battle tactics first hand; quite clever I thought, the way the soldiers advanced on the enemy using their shields. Bloody and battle worn, Clavius returns to headquarters only to be immediately summoned by Pilate who has a problem. Pilate has had to crucify a troublesome Jew at the insistence of the Jewish Sanhedrin and he asks Clavius to oversee proceedings to their conclusion. Clavius does so with characteristic efficiency. But when Jesus’ body is buried in a tomb, unlike other crucified victims who are simply turfed into an open common grave, complications arise. The body mysteriously disappears and Clavius is called upon to trace it, thereby keeping the peace and pacifying the Roman authorities.

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