It’s rare to witness a film with so much passion and hope that it virtually makes your heart burst. Once in a while such a gem will land in your lap and toy endlessly with your emotions; director Craig Freimond’s Beyond the River does just that delivering a showstopper of a tale that is sure to linger after watching.
The expression, ‘that’s a Dusi’ has never rung so loudly in ones ears whilst viewing this one. The infamous 3 day canoe and land race is without a doubt one of the toughest sporting competitions going. Based on a true story, Beyond the River follows the tale of Siseko ‘Helicopter’ Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who teamed up back in 2014 to race in the Dusi together. All sounds relatively normal so far, although Siseko was from a poor black community, whilst Piers had a wealth of experience in such events with the medals to prove it. Language barriers, cultural differences and the loss of friends due to them racing in a ‘mixed’ boat was the fire they needed to make them stronger and more determined to overcome all obstacles.
A few story arches could have been tossed aside and more time devoted to what really makes this these guys tick. Tactfully manipulating your feelings as this medium does so well, the motivation given to both characters to succeed in the Dusi side by side is utterly warranted. Ignoring racist comments from people they thought were loyal and overcoming all the hurdles placed in their way, it’s hard to fight the tears back as the two crawl across the finish line to claim gold. Outlining such tropes is what makes this tale so harrowing and enjoyable despite enduring difficult to watch scenes.
There is no denying the world we reside in is a scary place. With racist crimes on the rise, Trump’s America and the percentage of people visiting food banks is at a record high, it’s hard to believe how we can ever come back. Despite how bad things get for all characters involved here, Beyond the River provides you with something integral to continue through such hard times – hope. Even now, after everything the country has done to fight it the divide between black and white is still heart-breakingly prominent in South African. The white man seems to be wired to think the black is lesser, where did we go wrong? Who said this was right?
In association with Heartlines, a charity urgently trying to stop such things, Beyond the River is such an important piece of cinema that highlights everything wrong with the human race. Not just South African desperately needs to see this story of triumphant human spirit, the world needs to know this is till happening, everywhere. By bringing this to the forefront in such a powerful manner there is hope and there are those who will repair the damage and lead the way to a better future for all, black or white, poor or rich – it really doesn’t matter. With that being said, such widespread change won’t be a walk in park, it will very much be a Dusi.