Rondebosch actress is the new Fiela

Zenobia Kloppers plays the role of Fiela Komoetie in Fiela se Kind.

A Rondebosch actress has landed her first feature film lead in the new adaptation of the iconic Fiela se Kind.

Namibian-born Zenobia Kloppers plays the role of Fiela Komoetie, who takes in a lost white baby Benjamin and raises him as her own.

Set in the Karoo in 1865, the film follows the lives of Fiela and Benjamin, who is removed from her care nine years later and forced to live in the Knysna Forest with a family of woodcutters who claim that he is theirs.

Separated by law and geography, Fiela and Benjamin spend the next decade trying to find each other while simultaneously coming to terms with their individual identities. Fiela has lost a son and slowly descends into depression. Benjamin, on the other hand, is thrust into an abusive and impoverished environment.

The novel by Dalene Matthee was adapted for film by director Katinka Heynes in 1988 and starred Shaleen Surtie-Richards.

The role of Fiela had been 10 years in the making for Ms Kloppers, who played the role under the direction of Sandra Prinsloo in 2008. Ten years later, she was asked to relieve Ms Surtie-Richards for a two-week run of Fiela se Kind at Carnival City in 2018.

Fiela is portrayed as a strong woman with high standards, who makes sure that her home and family are clean and taken care of.

While she is not the type to hug or say I love you to her family, she will cross mountains for them – as
she does to be reunited with Benjamin.

Ms Kloppers said she felt blessed and privileged to have been granted the opportunity to play such an iconic role. She said it had been a magical, spiritual and “once in a lifetime” experience.

“The shooting schedule was quite rigorous – we shot for six weeks. The first three weeks I was on set every day but I loved every minute,” she said.

Ms Kloppers said one of her favourite scenes was when they shot with the ostriches.

“It was so scary and exhilarating to work with live animals. We all had a great day, even though it was very cold,” she said.

She said the response to the film, thus far, had been extremely positive.

“When we did the premiere in Windhoek, people lived themselves into it so much, that they shouted at the screen. Especially during the scene between Fiela and Elias. It was wonderful to witness,” she said.

Ms Kloppers studied acting at UCT and classical singing at Stellenbosch University. She has performed numerous roles over the years, including that of Rebecca Thuli on Suidooster, Dina in the musical Ghoema and the role of Sarah in Sarah (the story of Saartjie Baartman).

She received critical acclaim for her interpretation of the title roles in the stage productions of Klarabelle gaan Kaaptoe, as well in radio dramas such as Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena.

Ms Kloppers said she had recently shot for short shoots for a few series as well as a soapie – that will be aired later this year and next year.

She is currently busy writing academic books (handbooks and study guides for Afrikaans literature study) with her business partner for their company, SeiKlo Publishers.

She said she was planning a music show but said it was too early to say anything more on it.

The cast of Fiela se Kind also features Wayne Smith as Benjamin Senior, Luca Bornman as Benjamin Junior, Wayne van Rooyen as Selling Komoetie, Drikus Volshenck as Elias van Rooyen, Cindy Swanepoel as Barta van Rooyen, Chiara Roodt as Nina Junior, Melissa Willering as Nina Senior, Stefan Erasmus as Tollie Komoetie and Andre Stoltz as Lange.

Writer and director Brett Michael Innes said it was an honour to introduce this new adaptation to the public.

“My great hope is that viewers are moved and that they can see the love that went into making this by all who were involved.”

Producer Danie Bester said: “Every now and again a film is made that must be seen on the big screen. I think Fiela se Kind is such a movie.”