‘Van’ comes to life on the big screen

Rob van Vuuren will be seen in the role of old Van.

How many Van der Merwes does it take to stop a wedding? Maybe just the one. That is, if he can get it right just this one time.

Strap in and hold on tight to your stereotypes, because the butt of South Africa’s favourite jokes is coming to the big screen.

Van Der Merwe is a quirky new comedy about the underdog and will be released in cinemas nationwide on July 28.

In every country there is a person who is the butt of all jokes. In Ireland, it is Paddy. In Israel, it is Hymie and in South Africa, that person is Van der Merwe… this story is about him.

Complete with his misconceptions, biases and characteristic inability to succeed, Van der Merwe is sure to make you laugh, cry and above all, cringe, as he attempts to right a grievous wrong, or make a fool of himself trying. With a loving wife, gorgeous daughter, a feisty father and a soon-to-be British son-in-law, you will be left believing in sheer luck, good or bad.

“I wanted to make a film about a single character, like ‘Ace Ventura’ or ‘Zoolander’, but with a South African flavour. Van is part of our culture, a character we can all relate to. He has a history and a place in our hearts. Bringing him to life on the big screen is something a lot of people want to see,” says director and screenwriter, Bruce Lawley about his debut feature film.

Set on a farm in South Africa, VAN DER MERWE centres around Van’s (Rob van Vuuren) daughter, Marike (Reine Swart), who returns home from a gap year in England with her new fiancé, George, a British medical student. This sets the scene for all sorts of problems and challenges.

According to Bruce, the original script for VAN DER MERWE was written in 2005.

“We’ve all heard the jokes, but who is the man behind the myth? Who is Van der Merwe and what is he actually like? What would someone need to be like and how would they behave if they were to be the butt of all jokes?

“That is what the story is about. On a deeper level, the film is about overcoming differences, being true to oneself and about never giving up, no matter what the odds might be.

“VAN DER MERWE is a feel good film. More than anything, we want viewers to leave cinemas smiling and with the positive message that no matter what your circumstances – or shortcomings – are, things will be okay. But you have to be able to laugh at yourself. You can’t take life too seriously. Be true to yourself, keep trying, and keep smiling,” Lawley concludes.

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