The screen adaptation of Nobel Prize winning author J.M Coetzee’s Disgrace has won an international film award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Co-produced by Cape Town-based DO Productions, the film received a Special Recognition Award from the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI).
Speaking to ScreenAfrica.com, DO Productions’ Brigid Olën said, “Winning the FIPRESCI Award was quite significant as it distinguished the film from the 350 or so other films at Toronto in terms of critics’ recommendations.”
“The Toronto screening was the film’s world premiere and it was a phenomenal launch pad. Toronto is an audience friendly community and the accolades for Disgrace were brilliant; the film was really well received,” she added.
Disgrace, a Booker Prize winning novel, tells the story of university lecturer, David Lurie, from Cape Town who is fired after having an affair with a student. Lurie, played by award-winning actor John Malkovich, decides to visit his daughter who lives on a farm in the Eastern Cape where the two are attacked and his daughter, played by South African actress Jessica Haines, is raped. The film looks closely at issues of violence, sex and racism.
While specific to the historical context of a changing South Africa, the FIPRESCI critics described the film as representing an “inner hurricane”.
Pablo Scholz, a critic and chief editor of Clarín, a leading newspaper in Argentina, said: “Even if you don’t hail from a country with such racial or political conflicts in its recent past – with tensions and anger still hovering in the air – Disgrace will press some buttons on your conscience.
“This is not a primarily political film, but the Australian director Steve Jacobs raises the theme of personal conflict and crosses it with the social: Racism is a factor here, as well as the relationship between a father and a daughter learning in very different ways how to integrate with, and how to survive, a society in dangerous transition.
“Resistance to change is always difficult, but Disgrace serves as a step on the way to understanding how to deal with internal demons and build a better society – whether that’s in South Africa, the Bahamas or on your own street corner.”
Following the film’s success at the Toronto International Film Festival, the makers of Disgrace have sold the film to distributors in Europe as well as Israel, Brazil and Mexico. According to Filmmaker South Africa, the film has yet to be sold to distributors in the US, a key market in the industry.
Disgrace will be released in South Africa by Videovision Entertainment. The film is expected to show in cinemas early next year.