Sea Point director’s short film wins social impact award

Milriano Illias is the lead actor in Tears Become Rain.

Tears Become Rain, a new short film directed by Sea Point-based artist David Brits, has won the inaugural Social Impact Arts Prize from the Rupert Art Foundation.

The film’s narrative follows the journey of a young San boy, told by |xam rainmaker and master storyteller //Kabbo, in a time of great drought. His tears of grief turn into rain and restore abundance to the world.

“I’m an artist that is interested in public space and making public sculptures and I felt compelled to make a public arts project,” Mr Brits said of his inspiration to make the short film.

He added: “The focus of the film is about the rich cultural assets of Graaff-Reinet and one of them is singing as there is a rich choral tradition in this town.”

“The history that we make use of is hundreds, possibly thousands of years old,” he said of the film that utilises the Bleek-Lloyd Archive of San oral history and was recorded by linguists Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm and Dorothea Bleek between 1871 and 1873. The visual concepts, epic poem and the lyrical and musical compositions drew significantly from the archive to evolve into this moving film.

Mr Brits and his team’s winning project envisioned 2 500 people gathering for a mass-choir performance in the town square of Graaff-Reinet to sing for rain during the worst drought in a thousand years. However, less than a month after being announced as recipients of the Social Impact Arts Prize, the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was declared and that gave Mr Brits a new challenge.

“We had to figure out how to tell this story through singing in a Covid-friendly environment and we picked 12 singers from the different choirs in town. They had never sung together before and their signing styles were different, they had different home languages and we blended this together using Afrikaans as it is the common language in that area,” Mr Brits said.

“The Arts should be used as a tool to bring people together and to celebrate our shared cultures, to celebrate our differences and the different rich cultures of South Africa and through this project we can see the talent of the people in Graaff-Reinet,” he said.

The film can be viewed on Latitudes Online until Saturday July 31 or on YouTube

From left are Allan Hoffan, Limwile Thamsanqa, Innocent Swellendam, Therlow Baai and Wesley Adams on set.