Verdict: 4 / 5
Dis Ek Anna won Best Director (Sara Blecher), Best Actor (Morne Visser) and Best Film at the 2015 kykNET Silwerskermfees.
Frantically trying to light a cigarette, while the bakkie speeds towards her childhood home, completely distraught Anna Bruwer (Charlene Brouwer) is drenched in tears and screams of a violated youth. She only picks up certain words from the radio chatter – lies and truth. These act as soul ripping triggers, memories flooding as her body shakes behind the wheel. Grey skies draw over her foreshadowing the fate of the one she has to face and that of her consequences.
For anyone that has read the books by Anchien Troskie (who wrote under the alias of Elbie Lötter) ‘Dis ek Anna’ and ‘Die staat teen Anna Bruwer’ , the plot is known in detail; Anna was molested and raped as a teenager three to four times a week by her stepfather Danie du Toit (Morne Visser), for many years, while her mother Johanna (Nicola Hanekom) pretended ignorance to uphold the picture of her perfect husband, an upstanding gentleman and seen member of the community. It’s a lie she stands by even in court as she looks into the pleading eyes of her daughter on trial for the murder of her monstrous ‘prince’.
While it surrounds the life of Anna it deals with the still very relevant and increasing violation of our youth. It aims to teach teenagers not to remain quiet, not to accept the abuse as punishment, or that it is somehow his/her fault, but to speak up and seek help, regardless of who the offender is and for us as a society to start listening to our children.
We follow the emotional journey from the point of the murder back to where it all began, with clean transitions between the past and present. But there is a subplot that doesn’t distract from the main plot, but in the end shows what an impact the voice of one person can have. Anna was never afraid of going to jail, she just wanted to stop him – Danie from being able to do what he did to her and her sister in the future. Her method was wrong, but it shows the extremities people often feel they need to go to, in order to protect others from the same suffering. As for the subplot of the investigation into the rape and murder of a two-year-old, cop Weber (Marius Weyers) realizes what Anna initially aimed to do and thanks her. The legal system cannot atone for the sins of pedophilia, molestation, rape or murder. So it is no surprise when loved ones or those affected by this heinous crime take matters into their own hands to rid the streets of such individuals. But it isn’t just the offender that is to blame; it is everyone that remains quiet.
Blecher manages to visually tell a very traumatizing story while remaining sensitive to the emotional capability of the viewers. While a lot of the scenes bring great discomfort it doesn’t linger or push boundaries for the sake of realism or shock value. As the aim is to have teenagers watch the film, you don’t want to repulse or make the visuals too realistic that it becomes traumatizing. That isn’t the point. This, of course, relies heavily on the cast, who do a superb job. Each individual displays utter vulnerability in his or her part and respects the text rather than a force for dramatic performance.
On a technical side, the film succeeds to create a linear and natural feel, which eases the watching experience. Although it is shown from the perspective of a white Afrikaaner it is very relevant to all South Africans, and essential for our nation to speak up and take action against child abuse, neglect, manipulation, molestation, and rape. If children are truly gifts of life, they ought to be protected and nurtured not used as objects for personal satisfaction and gain. For the psychological damage long surpasses the physical. And if we aspire a better future we can’t expect it to be built by broken youth.