Director: Angus Gibson
Writer: Michèle Rowe
Director of Photography: Thomas Marais
Editor: Megan Gill
Languages: This film was shot in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa
Matthew Colley’s future is bright. Born into a wealthy and successful family, he plans to study overseas on a tennis scholarship upon leaving school. But a trip to the Quikshop with his mother changes everything. A policeman rushing to a crime scene jumps a red light and Matthew is killed. Two families are left reeling from grief and guilt. Directed by the acclaimed Angus Gibson, Crossroads documents the different journeys Matthew’s family – his father, Alan, mother Bridget and sister Eliza – travel in coming to terms with his death. Alan, played by Ian Roberts, is so determined to get justice for his son that he conducts his own investigation when the state finds that the policeman, Barend Vermulen, (Jan Ellis), was not negligent in causing Matthew’s death. But the personal war he wages, alienates him from his grieving wife and daughter. Ironically, Barend too, is isolated from his family – thanks to the secret burden he bears about what truly happened. The only one to find redemption is Eliza. And she finds it in the most unlikely manner. By reaching out to Barend’s wife, Jeanette, Eliza discovers that through forgiveness, one finds freedom. Will her father follow her example and find closure? Or will his anguish force him into an act of desperation that will devastate the same two families all over again?
Ian Roberts – Allan Colley
Ian Roberts only decided he wanted to be an actor after leaving school. But fortunately the Rhodes University Bachelor of Arts graduate never had to suffer for his craft. During a long career, he has appeared in the television series “Onder Draai Die Duiwel”, “Behind the Badge” and “Snitch”. His film credits include leading roles in “Kalahari Harry”, “Lucy”, “Tarzan & Jane”, “Malunde and Promised Land”. He has also had small roles in international films “Red Dust” and “King Solomon’s Mines”, as well as supporting roles in Richard E. Grant’s film “Wah Wah” and Gavin Hood’s Oscar-winning “Tstosi”. The lead character in Crossroads, Roberts found the film tough going. “I must admit that I have found the part very tough to portray, because I had to interpret a very spiritual role,” he said. Roberts said working with Gibson and on Heartlines was an honour because of the strong values it was attempting to communicate.
Jan Ellis – Barend
At only 32 years of age, Jan Ellis has been involved in the entertainment industry for 20 years in various guises: actor, writer, director and producer. And he has been winning accolades for almost as long. At the tender age of 14, Ellis scooped an M-net best supporting actor award for his role in Katinka Heyns’s “Fiela se Kind”. Ten years later, he won another – this time an All African Film award for “Paljas”, another Heyns film. He has also appeared in 20 plays and been nominated for numerous awards as actor, writer and producer. He won two accolades for his play, “3”. He has appeared in Cris Krusen’s award winning film on transformation in South Africa, “Final Solutions”, as well as in local television series “Manakwalanders”, “Paradys”, “Egoli”, “S.O.S”. and “Isidingo”. He can currently be seen in “Amalia II” on Kyknet and “Known Gods” on M-Net. Ellis also toured Ireland and England in Athol Fugard’s “Hello and Goodbye” in 1997, after which he wrote the highly successful trilogy, “Bloed, Water en Wyn”. Working prodigiously has not prevented him from obtaining a BA degree in Communications from the University of South Africa , which he obtained Cum Laude. Ellis has also lived in Japan, teaching English and performing in Hideki Noda’s acclaimed play “Aka Oni”, where he acquired a black belt in Judo and spent 100 days living in a Zen monastery
Ellis says a call from his Cape Town agent was all it took for him to land the role as Barend in “Cross Roads”. “I really had the jol of my life and it was a very good cast and crew to work with,” he says.
Claire Watling – Jeanette
Claire Watling is a recognised theatre, cabaret and screen actress. She has appeared in “The Wizard of Oz”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Madam and Eve”. One of her numerous roles in television and film includes that of “Sandy” on Egoli. Watling, who is studying for an Honours in drama and movie directing, has scooped “Fleur du Cap” awards for ‘Most Promising Newcomer” in 1986, “Best Supporting Actress” in 1987 and “Best Actress” in 1999 and 2001. She was awarded the “Best Actress” Vita award in 1996 and “Best Supporting Actress” Evening Post award. She also coaches accents at UCT’s drama school.
Jessica Haines – Eliza
Jessica Haines is currently shooting the third season of the South African drama ‘Home Affairs”, which is broadcast on SABC 1. Haines also appeared in “Isidingo” and “Gaz’lam”, but is more often to be found on the stage in South Africa.
Haines says Heartlines was a “wonderful challenge” because her character was young, talented, very liberating and vibey. She said the film had moved her because of its good, strong story. “The cast was not only wonderful to work with; I loved the way this film speaks so strongly about God,” she says.
Locations and further information:
Directed by Angus Gibson and shot in Cape Town, in June of 2005, Crossroads was the first episode filmed for the Heartlines Series. Our locations included: Newlands, the suburb of Bishopscourt; the St Andrews Church in Newlands; the Bergvliet Methodist Church; Bothasig, the Fish Hoek Police Station and the Cape Town High court.
Michèle Rowe – Head Writer
IT was two years of hell, but Michélle Rowe would not change it for the world. Because she knew when she agreed to be the head writer for Heartlines, that it wouldn’t be easy. “When [co-producer] Harriet [Gavshon] rang to ask if I’d be interested, I was intrigued. There was quite a lot of debate around moral regeneration at the time, on what our common values were, and how we had lost our way after 1994, seemingly swamped by Western materialistic consumerism. But I could not imagine how South Africa could possibly develop a television series around these concerns.
“As a writer I instinctively recoiled at the idea of messaging, but at the same time I completely supported the idea of a series that would stimulate some debate around these issues,” said Rowe.
Her instincts turned out to be right.
During the two years that the storylines were created, Rowe – working with writers Roger Smith, Jacqui L’Ange, Philip Miller and Busisiwe Ntintili – was often driven to hysteria and despair as they travelled “a minefield of cultural and religious misunderstandings].
“It often seemed like a quixotic and impossible task, certainly the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.”
She said one of the biggest challenges was taking a position on issues – whether it was popular or not.
“One is in danger of being presumptuous, but at the same time with a project like this you have to nail your true colours to the mast, or be in danger of the very kind of relativism which led to the moral impasse we face now.”
Another challenge, said Rowe who is based in Cape Town, was having to sacrifice creativity for clarity.
“There were a lot of people involved in determining the content, there was a lot of testing, and we often had to sacrifice more subtle dramatic solutions so as not to confuse the values. For a writer that level of interference is exceptionally hard.”
But Rowe, who started out in the film industry as a production designer before graduating to screenwriting, producing, directing and research, said she had never considered giving up – thanks largely to the relentless determination of Garth Japhet who conceived the project.
It felt, said Rowe, as if Japhet had a mission of some kind and would not give up.
She said the breakthrough came when they decided Heartlines should be an anthology rather than a series. This meant that each story could stand alone, making it easier to get the messages across.
But the proof of the pudding will only come for Rowe once the films are aired If the movies help to fuel debate on South Africa’s current value-system – or lack of one – she will believe she has succeeded.
Even though the public jury may still be out, Rowe knows that the project has already succeeded in one respect: it has made her and her fellow writers “question their own ideas”.
Said Rowe: “Heartlines was a great experience and it was a privilege to work with such an amazingly talented and dedicated bunch of people.” – Heartlines Features