“I think art is entertainment, but it’s also therapy. We tend to sweep things under the rug. I’d like us to have more open dialogue about what type of society we are versus the one we would like to be.”
One of 2020’s major lessons so far (and there have been a lot) is that we need creative voices more than ever: to inspire us, educate us, challenge us, and — even if just for a moment — transport us to a world beyond our own.
Christiaan Olwagen is an award-winning director and screenwriter who’s doing just that with well-received works of film that delight as much as they spark dialogue. Kanarie is a coming-of-age war musical about a small-town boy who chooses to serve his compulsory two-year military training in the South African Defense Force choir. His most recent offering Poppie Nongena puts on screen the story of a black woman trying to keep her family together under apartheid. It was written by prolific author Elsa Joubert.
Subsequently, one of his proudest moments was showing the film to Joubert. He was terrified, but thankfully she was very happy with the end result.
Whether he’s navigating the plot of a novel on film or coming up with his own original screenplays, Olwagen is driven by creating tales:
“I have such an overactive imagination, which keeps me awake at night and wakes me up in the morning. I have to create; if I don’t channel my imagination into creativity it becomes my anxiety.”