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With less than two weeks to go before we kick off the 8th annual Silwerskermfees at The Bay Hotel, it’s safe to say that excitement levels are definitely rising!

The annual film festival has played host to legions of amazing films. Be it short films or full-length, feature films, the talent featured at every Silwerskermfees since its inception in 2010 has been second to none, with several of the films showcased going on to achieve incredible success both locally and internationally.

This year will be no different, as the films showing at this year festival will draw audiences in and leave an unforgettable impression.

‘Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story’ will open this year’s festival and considering the praise the film has already received, you can be sure that this film will suck you in and spit you out – much like the heartbreaking plot of the film.

The film is based in the true story of Ellen Pakkies, the Cape Town mother who had to endure extensive trauma because of her drug addicted son, ultimately leading to his death.

Starring the immensely talented Jill Levenberg as Ellen Pakkies, the film also stars Jarrid Geduld as Ellen’s son, Abie, in a stunning breakthrough performance.

Other notable South African actors cast in this heart wrenching thriller include Clint Brink, Ilse Klink and Elton Landrew.

‘Kanarie’ the musical, coming-of-age war drama set in South Africa in the 80s is another favourite full-length feature film to look out for. The film, directed by one of the country’s most notable young directors, Christiaan Olwagen, has already received stunning praise abroad, after it made its international premiere at the INside OUT Toronto LGBT Film Festival in Canada in May.

The film stars comedian of the moment, Schalk Bezuidenhoudt, in the lead as well as a host of cameos by notable, veteran South African actors including Anna-Mart Van der Merwe, Albert Maritz and Johan and Lida Botha.

Another heavily anticipated Christiaan Olwagen film will showcase at Silwerskerm this year. ‘Die Seemeeu’ is an adaption of the classic Anton Chekov play, ‘The Seagull’, whihc was written in 1895.

Olwagen first debuted ‘Die Seemeeu’ as a play in 2016, after adapting the script with Saartjie Botha.

‘Die Seemeeu’ boasts an impressive cast, including South African film and theatre legends, Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers. Deon Lotz, Rolanda Marais, Cintaine Schutte and Geon Nel also star in the film, amongst others.

‘The Harvesters’ or in Afrikaans, ‘Die Stropers’, is a dark, psychological thriller set in a small Afrikaans farmers’ community. The film is internationally co-produced and was written by Etienne Kallos. It made premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section of the Cannes Film Festival in May of this year. Beautifully shot and poignant, ‘The Harvesters’ will certainly leave you intrigued and a little uncomfortable.

Prominent Afrikaans writer, Dana Snyman’s beloved play, ‘Dominee Tienie’ will make its debut as a feature film at Silwerskermfees this year. Frank Opperman will reprise his role as Dominee Tienie as he does in the play, alongside Deon Lotz, Regardt van den Bergh and Paul Eilers to name but a few. The heartwarming story about a dominee confronted with a tough crossroad in his career is expertly showcased by the film’s impressive cast.

Closing the 2017 Silwerskermfees this year is Ander Mens’. The action-comedy features Quentin Krog in both the writers and directors seat. His fourth, full-length feature film to date, Krog has already made waves in the South African film scene.

The film follows Daniel Niemand (Bennie Fourie) as his life spirals out of control with unexpected consequences.

The film also stars James Borthwick, Frank Opperman, Laudo Liebenberg and Andre Weideman.

This year, two other feature films that are not in competition will showcase at the festival. Table Manners’, is a comedy-drama written by Leli Maki and directed by Nkuli Sibeko. The film centres around a housewife’s life that gets thrown into turmoil. Starring Fiona Ramsay and Neels Van Jaarsveld, this film is sure to be a crowd favourite.

‘An Act of Defiance’ is set in Apartheid South Africa circa 1963 when 10 men, including Nelson Mandela, are arrested for conspiring to commit sabotage and violent acts. The film also features Nelson Mandela’s iconic “I am prepared to die” speech and is a gritty reminder of what South Africa – and South Africans – have been through.

While we will have to wait and see which films (feature length and short) will take home the trophies, Silwerskermfees did announce that this year, they will award legendary South African actress and filmmaker, Katinka Heyns, with the ‘Silwerskerm Legende’ award for her unsurpassed contribution to the South African film and television space.

The Silwerskermfees returns to The Bay Hotel for the 6th year this August and will run from August 22 to August 25.