Dangerous Ground: About The Filmmakers

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DARRELL ROODT is one of South Africa's leading filmmakers. At age 24 Roodt made his feature film directing debut with Place of Weeping, South Africa's first anti-apartheid film. Premiering in New York, the film earned him critical acclaim as a courageous young filmmaker. Roodt was presented with a plaque by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who declared January 23, 1987 (the picture's South African release date), to be "Place of Weeping Day" in Los Angeles. Roodt's passion for confrontational works during the apartheid era earned him a maverick reputation with the South African press.

Roodt was born and educated in South Africa, where he studied drama at the University of Witwaterstand for two weeks. The Dean of the Faculty told him to go out and make his own movies. Roodt listened, and has never looked back.

Place of Weeping was followed by the anti-war film The Stick (banned in South Africa) which opened the Montreal Film Festival in 1988. The Stick screened on the international film festival circuit and won numerous awards, including two M-Net Film Awards for Best South African Picture and Best Editing, along with six other nominations.

The political thrillers Tenth of a Second and City of Blood followed. In 1989 Roodt directed Jobman, which received another six nominations in the M-Net Film Awards. This was followed by the action thriller To the Death.

Roodt's career break came at age 29 when he directed Whoopi Goldberg in the film version of Sarafina!, based on Mbongeni Ngema's multi-award-winning Broadway musical play. The film was screened in the Official Selection of the 1992 Cannes Film Festival and went on to be a commercial and critical success. Roodt followed it with his first American film, Father Hood, starring Patrick Swayze and produced by Gillian Gorfil.

Roodt's most recent film is Cry, the Beloved Country, produced by his longtime collaborator Anant Singh. Alan Paton's literary classic was adapted for the screen by Ronald Harwood and starred James Earl Jones and Richard Harris. The score was composed by five-time Academy Award,-winner John Barry (Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves). The film premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York with First Lady Hilary Clinton and President Nelson Mandela as guests of honor.

GILLIAN GORFIL was born and educated in Johannesburg. She attended the Pretoria Film School, where she received a diploma in camerawork, sound, lighting, editing and film history.

Gorfil began her career in film when she met director Darrell Roodt on the production of Jobman, executive produced by her sisters. "Darrell inspired in me the passion for film that film school failed to ignite," she says.

Gorfil and Roodt created a partnership in 1989, optioned the book Lightning Bird (still to be produced) and spent a year working on the script before Sarafina! catapulted Roodt into Hollywood, where Gorfil and Roodt went on to produce and direct, respectively, Father Hood, starring Patrick Swayze.

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