Rene van Rooyen on ‘Toorbos’

South African writer-director, Rene van Rooyen, has been dreaming of the day that her film Toorbos would open in cinemas. On Friday 13 November, her long-awaited vision for Toorbos will come full circle. Based on Dalene Matthee’s novel of the same name, van Rooyen has been working on this passion project for 8 years. A coming-of-age romance drama set in 1930s Knysna, Toorbos journeys with Karoliena and her forest-dwelling community as the prospect of a new life beckons.

The direct translation of the Afrikaans title, Toorbos means Dream Forest. Knysna’s forest region becomes a living and breathing character in this windswept romance drama. Starring Elani Dekker and Stiaan Smith, the film was nominated for Best Picture at last year’s Silwerskermfees. Besides strong performances, its poetic treatment results in an enigmatic and stirring film about self-determination, identity and following your heart.

Rene van Rooyen co-wrote Hollywood in my Huis and Vaselinetjie serving as writer-director on Mooirivier. She’s amassed experience across film and TV but Toorbos best represents the writer-director’s potential and spectrum of talent. Spling and van Rooyen took some time out to discuss the making of Toorbos in this illuminating interview.