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14 March 2008




‘The Shaman's Apprentice’ recalls actress Antoinette Pienaar's magical-realist journey of transformation with the 92 year-old Griekwa 'bush doctor' Johannes Willemse.

Karoo-born, Antoinette had always wanted to uncover the secrets of this vast and mysterious landscape, seemingly barren, yet teeming with life. It took a life-threatening illness to meet the herbalist who was to become her teacher. As it happens, 'bossie doktor' Johannes Willemse had seen her arrival in a dream some thirty years before...

In this lyrical, pertinent film Antoinette Pienaar speaks a universal language and connects on an almost primordial level. She tells of her recovery and growing awareness of nature, guided patiently by her mentor's firm hand and gentle humour.

This film opens series 2 of ‘The Healing Power of Nature’ on SABC3, 27th April @ 18h30. It is directed by Catherine Winter, filmed by Christopher Wessels and Catherine Winter, edited by Tonia Selley and produced by Mafisa Media in association with See Here Media.

The series explores unique areas of South Africa, and even places beyond its borders. The diversity of the characters in the films reflects South African society and its transformation. In different languages, while using fresh ideas and film making techniques, the films tell real African stories, exploring the age-old and mystical relationship between people and nature. ‘The Healing Power of Nature series’ has stimulated discussion and debate on the topical issues of people and nature, inspiring South Africans from all walks of life. Most importantly the production has exposed a wide variety of people to film and empowered them in the film making process, bringing a new angle to 'wildlife documentaries'.

Producer/Director Catherine Winter's work is noted for her innovative, evocative style and her capacity to bring out deeply personal stories within social, individual and educational contexts. She is committed to authentic storytelling, whether through shooting from the heart or through her careful juxtaposition of found footage (My African Mother, 2000).

"This film, as a very challenging concept, had being brewing for a long time. The call for proposals by Mafisa provided an ideal platform for an archetypal narrative." says Catherine. "By this time I had formed a smooth working collaboration with Antoinette and Oom Johannes, and had started shooting. They seemed the ideal narrators to reflect an increasingly common South African experience - that of western initiation into traditional African mysticism, healing and spiritual technology."

Editor Tonia Selley and director Catherine Winter have a working relationship dating back to 1998, when Tonia directed ‘Dead Men Don't Tour’, a documentary about the first Rodrigues tour of South Africa. They have a rare and effortless working relationship which draws on each others strengths as storytellers. Tonia, who is also a musician, has edited many productions; from documentaries (Hot Wax, I will not go gently, 5 Planets, The man who knew too much) to drama series ( Bubomsana, Sorted - Series 1 and 2). Last year she was nominated for a Safta for Best Editor-Comedy for her work on Sorted.

Catherine first saw Christopher Wessels' work in post production on the feature ‘The Search for a South African Husband’, which Tonia was editing at the time. "I loved the way he effortlessly paints with light while framing his subject with a classic cinamatographers' eye." she says. Christopher holds a Bachelors of Arts (motion picture medium) from the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. His graduation project, the short film ‘Ongeriewe’, was nominated for a Palm d’Or at the 2006 Festival de Cannes.

To visit Catherine Winter’s website, click here

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