By Laurie Scarborough
South African film, Krotoa, received the Best Film award at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York earlier this month. The film has also garnered awards at several other film festivals, including the International Film Festival of Women.
The biopic documents the life of Krotoa, influential female Khoi translator. Given the name Eva by the settlers, she began work at the household of Jan van Riebeeck at the age of 11, and after learning Dutch and Portuguese as a teenager became translator to van Riebeeck and worked as a representative agent of Dutch traders, aiding with trade negotiations. Later, she became an important figure in peace negotiations during the Dutch-Khoi-Khoi war in early South Africa. As the only documented female translator of the time, she has since been dubbed the “Mother of the Nation”.
She is also noted to be the first documented person in South Africa to have married interracially, after she married Danish man Pieter van Meerhoff, and has thus became a figure of peaceful interracial coexistence. She is also credited for contributing to the creation of South African language, Afrikaans.
The film not only features a strong female lead, but is also produced, directed, written and edited by a female team, celebrating not only a female leader of the 1600s but also current female film-makers.
Krotoa is the second South African film to be produced about the indigenous leader, the first being released as an episode of Hidden Histories in 2013.
Krotoa is set to be released on 4 August in South Africa. To follow updates on the film, join the Facebook page.