New Dalene Matthee film to hit the screens

Ira Blanckenberg plays the character of Meliena Kapp.

A Jan Van Riebeeck High School alumna stars in the new film Toorbos, which will hit cinemas from tomorrow, Friday November 13.

Ira Blanckenberg plays the character of Meliena Kapp in the film based on the fourth and final book in Dalene Matthee’s renowned forest books.

Set in the 1930s, in the Knysna forest, the film tells the story of Karoliena, a young forest child who is born into poverty. She’s the only daughter of an unsympathetic and hateful mother, Meliena. Her loving father dies when Karoliena is seven-years-old, after which she adopts the forest as her only guardian.

Meliena is a defeated woman who, after her husband’s death, becomes desperate to keep food on the table and educate her daughter. Her husband had provided them with a good woodcutter’s home, but after his passing she has to sleep with different men in order to survive.

Blanckenberg describes her character as a woman who has lived a hard life but will do anything for her daughter.

“She’s conservative woman; her biggest desire is to see her daughter rise above the poverty that surrounds them.”

Sharing on how she prepared for this role, she said she did a lot of research and reading about the history of the story.

“As I read through the story, I had a deep empathy for people who have lived that life,” she said.

She said she worked with an incredible cast and the only challenge that they encountered was the extremely cold and rainy weather during shooting in Knysna.

She said there’s a lot to take from the film including learning how women have always strived for independence.

“Even today, we’re constantly fighting the battle to be listened to and to be heard and to be taken seriously as human beings,” she said.

Blanckenberg said she learnt that a mother will do anything for her child and women are and have always been stronger than anything.

“Everyone who watches the film will learn something. There’s a magical story about nature, stories about strong women, stories about the community of tolerance. It’s an incredible story and there’s something for everyone,” she said.

Writer and director Rene van Rooyen spent six years writing the film, which will be screened at SterKinekor and Nu Metro cinemas.