Oliver Hermanus is one of South Africa's most exciting and talented new directors. Hermanus studied at the University of Cape Town, completing his B.A. in Film, Media and Visual Studies at the University of California, where he directed short films and documentaries. He returned to South Africa and began his career as a press photographer covering events like the Glastonbury Festival and G8 Summit.
In 2006, Hollywood's blockbuster specialist, Roland Emmerich offered Hermanus a private scholarship to complete an MA in practical film-making at the London Film School. Since then, Hermanus has directed his first feature film, Shirley Adams, a character portrait drama about a South African woman's struggle with violence and poverty, which was screened at several high profile film festivals, winning the Grand Prix at the Amiens International Film Festival.
The talented young director co-wrote and directed Skoonheid, a character-driven drama about a man suffering a mid-life crisis. His second feature will be the fifth South African and first Afrikaans film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. Skoonheid will be screened under the Un Certain Regard listing alongside films from international directors such as Gus Van Sant, in a category that recognises young talent and encourages "original and different" works.
Hermanus has a special interest and appreciation for French cinema and recently curated the first Festival du Film Francais in South Africa. Commuting between Cape Town and Paris, Hermanus has been nothing short of electric this year and we were lucky enough to catch up with him to find out about his Top Ten Movies...
[on Omar Shariff] "We got drunk together."
I can't watch movies without...
- ...usually being alone. I prefer to feel as if the film was made for me alone.
Which famous people share your birthday?
- Lenny Kravitz it seems, from my Google check. (26 May)
What is the first film you remember watching?
- The Bear by Jean Jacques Jeunet. My father took us to see it as a family when we were living in Port Elizabeth. I don't remember how old I was but I remember the film being awesome.
What's the worst movie you've ever seen?
- Romeo Must Die.
Which movies have made you tearful?
- Bambi, The Lion King, Lassie - I can't handle animal parent figures dying... kills me every time!
Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?
- Omar Shariff. We met at the Dubai Film Festival, he was a jury member and my first feature was in the competition. We got drunk together.
What's your favourite movie line?
- "Your mom goes to college." (Napoleon Dynamite)
Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?
- Matt Damon! That guy can play anything.
If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?
- Well, that's a tricky question as I do make films... I would say: a film about a character going through some heavy stuff and working it out or... dying.
Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...
- The Piano Teacher ...I can't say enough about this film, the performances are unreal, the choice of character... I love character films and this is definitely one of the best.
- 400 Blows ...the style of this film really blew my mind when I first saw it. The complete believability of the main character and the emotions that the film so skillfully explore without being corny or sentimental.
- Rosetta ...this film inspired my own first feature film and again it's one of the best character portraits I have ever seen.
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days ...of the past decade this film stands alone as the benchmark of where international cinema is headed in terms of tone and style. It's a classic waiting to be knighted.
- Dr. Strangelove ...Kubrick at his wittiest. Peter Sellers was one of a kind and I can't get enough of him.
- Bring It On ...cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded... nuff said!
- The Last Emperor ...I remember watching this film over and over growing up, it's such an epic and is more like an opera than a film. Breathtaking.
- The Fifth Element ...everyone loves Lilu Dallas. The creative ideas in this film, much like Dr. Strangelove are really unique. The originality of this film is why it's earned its place on this list.
- All About Eve ...is one the best written films ever in my opinion, and one of the simplest. Everyone should see this if they want to make films or love them.
- Jackie Brown ...no one has attitude like Jackie Brown. A good film is one that I can enjoy the experience of watching over and over, and I never tire of this foxy lady!
Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.