One of the more successful films to come out of the New York Film Academy in recent years is Lara-Ann de Wet‘s documentary short, “Alive and Kicking.” Her film has screened at numerous film festivals, including SXSW, Brooklyn Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, where she won Best Short, and DOC NYC, where her film won Jury Prize for “Spirited Storytelling.” Next up, de Wet will be taking her film to the 73rd Annual Venice Film Festival, where it will screen with four other NYFA short films.
“Alive & Kicking” is a triumphant story about elderly African women who have taken their health and happiness into their own hands by taking up the game of soccer. It is a story that celebrates the fact that even against the harsh and desolate realities of their lives, living in extreme poverty and crime, and surrounded by death and disease, these African grandmothers are able to create a joyful space whereby they can celebrate being alive and physically able. Not only that, but through the love and guidance of their coach Jack, and Founder Mama Beka, these grannies run and kick their way down the soccer field more impressively than most young people in their community.
“More often than not we are often only given the unfavorable social and economic statistics of what life is like in rural Africa or South Africa without any documented account of the culture and vibrancy often found within the rural communities,” said de Wet. “Being South African, there are so many wonderful stories that have yet to be told and need to be brought to the world stage.”
De Wet says her film also celebrates the African women as being a pillar of strength in their society as well as the importance role exercise and community can play as a means to deal with physical or mental illness.
Alive & Kicking Trailer from Lara-Ann de Wet on Vimeo.
“My NYFA Doc experience was invaluable in terms of equipping me with the skills and insight I needed to direct this film,” said de Wet. “Prior to my one year conservatory course in documentary filmmaking I had never in fact made a film before, as I had been working in a management role at a brand consultancy. The course not only taught me the technicalities of shooting, editing, producing and directing, but more importantly the elements and critical thinking behind what makes a good story; and how to convey that to an audience. Doing the one year documentary course at NYFA may have been the most worthwhile investment I have ever made and, considering this film was my thesis film, I attribute nearly all I have learned to my training at the New York Film Academy.”
De Wet continues to work as a freelance editor and producer on other documentaries. She is also in the process of applying for funding to make a second film about surf therapy in South Africa.
“My goal is to continue to direct and tell stories that shine a light on African Culture,” she says.