MY HEART OF DARKNESS by Eden Film & Gebrueder Beetz productions

Four war-veterans, former enemies journey back to past battlefields deep within the African interior in search of reconciliation, forgiveness and … atonement?

Directors Staffan Julén and Marius van Niekerk

“There are two kinds of men, those who dream of war and those who have nightmares of war” Marius van Niekerk

The characters in our film, MY HEART OF DARKNESS, are men who have nightmares of war. Forcefully recruited into the military at an early age, often to fight against their own countrymen. Four men, four stories entwined, four fucked-up lives. Always ready to crack, to strike out even against those they love? Why do they snap awake in the middle of the night, running, sweating, pursued, terrified?

MY HEART OF DARKNESS, a journey of reconciliation into the dark African jungle, into a psyche so tainted with years of colonisation, religious brainwash, superstition and witchcraft, where history seems unnoticed, mistakes repeated over and over again, where lies are true until discovered, where life’s worth as much as a bullet, a journey that took us into the darkest of our own souls.

It is undeniably a story that becomes frightening and cruel the farther we churned up that river. Nevertheless, deep down there is a flicker of hope, of human hope that tells of a will to change and the painful insight that shows the contrast of cruelty and selfishness… to dare to love your enemy.

As story infinite and universal, that all can relate to, even if you haven’t been in a war yourself. As more young boys return from Afghanistan to peaceful Sweden wrapped up in body bags, one often wanders what it take to quench the warmonger’s of this world’s thirst for blood, how many bodies will it take to still their hunger for death and destruction… and what will it take to cleanse all that?

During the nearly four years of working on the film, following the veterans journey up the river, closer and closer to their own hearts of darkness, we too had to delve deeper and deeper into our very own souls, our owns doubts but we had to go there to fully understand this process, to participate in that final blood cleansing ceremony. It was inspiring to watch our characters change and transform from former enemies to friends, and made us realise that veterans the world over, have many similarities and much to share and learn from each other. Deep down there the roots are at work, very often, with no one to encourage them.

They are true role models, risking proving to themselves and also to us, that reconciliation is possible and that war is fucked up, and that most people just want to live a peaceful life.

Stockholm 05 November 2010

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Feedback, comments & reviews of MHOD resent SA screenings

"It was a pleasure to meet you in G’town – and to watch your redemptive move in the comfort of my home.

And what a story it is! I loved it, despite the tragic element underlying it. I loved the very active style, not jumpy but never flat; and the way that barriers between the four of you seemed to break down as time went on, time and talk, the twin healers. Memorable other bits? Samuel’s wife, who seemed very mistrustful of the whole process, the crocodile (which could never be scripted!), and the decision to burn the pictures and other stuff. Did you really do that? And was it necessary? I know that I’m a hoarder of all sorts of things and could never burn photos – or delete them as we can do now – not even of my ex-wife! But clearly the war made more of an impact and I suppose with that background, redemption and expunging the memory was probably more important.

Well done on a wonderful movie, handled with sensitivity and great pace, creating a harrowing account of real people in war, as opposed to caricatures. When’s the next one?

Oh, last point, Sweden was called “cold and peaceful”. Is this a compliment, I wonder? I expect it is compared to SA being “warm and violent”!!!!"  (James Clelland - winner of the European Union  Literary Award 2010 for novel "Deeper than Colour") 

"I saw "My heart of Darkness" and am utterly impressed by your latest production! Well done. I hope you can move on now that this tremendous statement is made. Before watching, I was nervous about being “taken back” to the war.  But wow, as this was without script and with unknown former enemies, I'm amazed by what I saw. The communication is unbelievable. The idea of drawing stories worked well. And of course the setting was fantastic. The closing scene with ex-UNITA and Fapla re-enacting an old battle is remarkable. I’m sure that this will be of interest to any soldier in that war as it’s not about South African's at war but about soldiers in Angola at the time." (Jim Hunneyball - ex-parra, conscript  SADF)

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