Tess

Tess 2017-03-06T10:35:50+00:00

Project Description

Project Summary

PROJECT TITLE: Tess

FORMAT: Theatrical Feature

LOGLING: When sex worker Tess falls pregnant, she has to fight to keep her past from swallowing her whole.

TAGLINE: I’ll take your breath away

GENRE: Drama

LANGUAGE: 70% Afrikaans, 30% English

WRITER: Tracey Farren, based on her novel Whiplash

DIRECTOR: Meg Rickards

PRODUCERS: Paul Egan & Kim Williams

PRINCIPAL CAST: Christia Visser, Nse Ikpe-Ekim, Brendon Daniels

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Boondogle Films

Synopsis

Sassy twenty-year-old Tess sells her body on Cape Town’s streets. She survives by popping painkillers by the bunch and through her wry humour. But her life turns upside down when she falls pregnant. Though Tess tries to run, her past torments her. She begins to question her own sanity. Tess fights back, fighting her demons, searching for the truth. A gritty no-holds-barred drama, shot in found locations in a living, breathing handheld style.

Statement from Director Meg Rickards

The fact that Tess is a sex worker is almost incidental. She’s a young woman who is undergoing a tumultuous journey: facing the truth of her childhood, coming to terms with it and moving forward with her inner dignity intact. She is so unflinchingly honest that your skin itches; you feel her suffering like a punch in the gut and her catharsis like a purging of your own emotional closet.

We have shot a film that inhabits Tess on every level; where the cinematography, sound design and music are all about her experience of the world. We wanted to get into her eyes, to feel what she is feeling. Most of the film is handheld, because we want to create the feeling that the camera is present with the actors, moving, reacting and breathing with them.

Stylistically we were inspired by the organic, “honest” quality of films such as Fish Tank (dir. Andrea Arnold) and Biutiful (dir. Alejandro Iñárritu), while working in a very different setting and with an extremely different set of social realities. We have used exclusively found locations, bathed in intense African light and colour. The editing style prioritises emotional arc rather than continuity. Dialogue is in raw “street” Afrikaans and idiomatic South African English. The score is a brooding and pensive mix of guitar-driven ambiences, often blurring the lines between music and naturally occurring rhythms like heartbeats and train tracks.

Main Cast

CHRISTIA VISSER
CHRISTIA VISSERas Tess
CHRISTIA VISSER is an award-winning actress who is making waves in the South African movie industry with her tremendous screen presence in Ballade vir ’n Enkeling and as the lead in Hollywood in my Huis. We believe her embodiment of the character of Tess is riveting: a naturalistic and courageous performance.
BRENDON DANIELS
BRENDON DANIELSas Merrick
As one of South Africa’s most recognised actors, BRENDON DANIELS has appeared in numerous films including The Young Lions, Master Harold and the Boys, Agter die Berg, Black Butterflies, Zulu and iNumber Number. In 2014 Brendon won the SAFTA for best actor for his leading role in Four Corners.
NSE IKPE-ETIM
NSE IKPE-ETIMas Madeleine
Nse Ikpe-Etim is one of Nigeria’s best-loved actresses. She came into prominence in 2008 for her role in Reloaded. In 2014, she won the Best Actress award at the 2014 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and has been nominated twice for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Africa Movie Academy Awards.

with

LEE-ANN VAN ROOI
LEE-ANN VAN ROOIas Bonita
DANN-JACQUES MOUTON
DANN-JACQUES MOUTONas Lennie
QUANITA ADAMS
QUANITA ADAMSas Chantal

What the Critics Said

Important and unflinching, Tess neatly flips the script.

Charl Blignaut , City Press

Dramaties. Besielend. Sielsopenbarend.

Leon van Nierop, Rapport

This film is like a hard punch that winds you because you almost can’t believe how cruelly people treat each other.
Yet Tess reminds you that you don’t need to be a victim of your circumstances.

Marguerite van Wyk, Netwerk 24