Given the celebration of Rabbit Proof Fence, it seems strange that Philip Noyce's follow up film Catch a Fire seems to have such a low profile. The film is particularly interesting for the portrayal of Nik Vos by Tim Robbins. In one scene, the Boer anti-terrorist expert is shown singing a gentle folk song accompanied by guitar with his young family. The film touches on the anxiety that formed the base to Apartheid, as well as the demoralising effects this had on its victims.
In an inteview for Emanuel Levy, Noyce admits a particular resonance as an Australian working on a film set in South Africa.
For Noyce, the most challenging part of making Catch a Fire was “being a white Australian tackling a South African story that deals with so many events of historical significance to that country. I very quickly began immersing myself in South African culture and history.
And reflecting on his experiences in researching white South Africans:
Talking to those police officers as I did — to many of them, ex-police officers in South Africa — I realized that they all saw themselves as Africans. That was a strange concept to me: How could a white person think of himself as African? And yet many of them lay claim to 300 years or more of continued residency in southern Africa. Some of them said, "Well, I've been here longer than Patrick Chamusso, than his forefathers. I'm African." Others said, "We were fighting a vicious, determined enemy, who was determined to destroy everything that we'd fought to build up here."
Elsewhere, he says...
the South Africans are a beacon to the rest of us; they are the light at the end of the tunnel that we never seem to see an end to - the tunnel of seemingly irresolvable differences between us all