A chance meeting with director Roland Emerich and his cinematographer, Uli Steiger, at a restaurant in Cape Town led to a friendship that changed everything. “One day Roland said to me, if you can get admission in film school, I will give you a scholarship,” said Hermanus. “Somehow they saw something in me; This is a perfect example of what it means to invest in people. “
Hermanus went to London Film School for three years, and made Puri-Ki-Puri “Shirley Adams” As his graduation film. “You’re about to make a short film, but I wore them,” Hermanus said. The film’s critical success in South Africa and abroad led to a residency invitation at Cannes, where he began work on “Beauty” studying homosexual passions in a tight African community.
Like Hermanus’ other films, “Mophie” is the product he describes as a “forensic” preparation. He researched the era, helped by Ramsay, who collected photographs of the ‘South African Border War’ in the 70s and 80s before joining up with the film. And the director met regularly with the actors for months, working on their previous stories, then sending them to boot camp for a week.
“Oliver created an environment in which anything was possible because we understood our characters and that world,” Hilton Pelzer, who plays the sergeant brand, said in a video interview. “I understood what the brand was trying to do; In a very dark, very violent way, he is trying to save his life. “
The film, Hermanus said, is a reflection of the crumbling of apartheid, the moment when the minority government cranked up fear and mistrust as it was losing its grip. The film has very few black figures, and all are brief themes of violence or contempt. “I wanted the film to be from a white South Africa point of view,” Hermanus said, “and that was the reality of it.”