Old classic, new twist

Wayne Smith, of Muizenberg, plays Benjamin Komoetie in the latest film version of Fiela se Kind, released on Friday September 13.

A new film takes a fresh look at the Dalene Matthee classic, Fiela se Kind, in which Muizenberg’s Wayne Smith, 28, has a leading role.

The film, which was released last Friday, is a remake of the 1988 version. Set in 19th century South Africa, it tells the story of a coloured woman, Fiela Komoetie, played by Zenobia Kloppers, who finds a white toddler crying on her Karoo doorstep and raises him as her own.

Nine years later, Benjamin Komoetie is taken away from Fiela and reunited with what is believed to be his biological parents, poor woodcutters trying to make a living in the Knysna Forest.

Wayne plays the part of Benjamin Komoetie. He says it was magical being part of the cast, and he shed tears the first four times he saw the final product.

“The first time Zenobia Kloppers and I watched it together we just clutched each other and wept.”

Wayne, who is originally from Pretoria but now calls Muizenberg home, says the story is one which touches so many elements of South African society, and he hopes its retelling will get people talking.

The film was shot in Uniondale, Worcester and Plettenberg Bay.

He says the direction by Brett Michael Innes was subtle and inspired.

“He managed to bring the best of what we had out in us for the screen.”

Playing the part of the older Benjamin in the story, Wayne has some emotionally wrought scenes. In one, he is running for all his worth, venting his rage and tears, crying out for his mother, for the loss of time with her – it was a particularly poignant scene for Wayne as he had lost his own mother just prior to shooting the film.

“Some of those cries and tears are real,” he says.

Wayne’s mom, Yolande Smith, had been with him when he got the news of his successful audition, the news of a call-back arrived with they were on holiday overseas together for the first time, in Dubai.

“We were passing a mall on a train, and the phone picked up wi-fi just long enough for the message to drop in that I was getting a call-back.”

He is grateful he could share that moment with his mom and says playing Benjamin in this iconic movie has helped him deal with his own grief.

“The most important thing about this film for me is that it’s about motherly love and the bond between a mother and son. It’s also a search for identity. I want to encourage all people to watch it, not just because it’s your set-work book but because it’s a story that holds so much for each of us in this country – it’s part of our collective identity, and I hope that this movie will be recognised as a catalyst for showing the really great space movie-making in South Africa is in right now.

“As South Africans, we have the most amazingly unique stories, and now, film-making is in the space that can tell them with the respect, subtlety and potency they deserve.”