South Africa has produced its share of legends – mostly in the humanities or on the silver screen – and one man that continues to spread his good vibes and his love for fellow humans is the well-known and well-loved Pieter-Dirk Uys. One of the most controversial yet approachable political satirists, Pieter-Dirk Uys (also fondly known as his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout or ‘Tannie Evita’) has seen our beautiful country shift and change over the years, and he’s had an extraordinary amount of influence in directing that change on a certain level.
To celebrate this national treasure, young producer/director Willem Oelofsen has brought together movers and shakers from across the world in one thought-provoking and honest documentary about Uys’ life and legacy. At the V&A Waterfront Cape Town film premiere, some of the ‘Friends of Evita’ walked down the blue carpet to celebrate the release of this film. The familiar faces of Jack Parow, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Desmond Tutu, David Kramer and Lizz Meiring among others were smiling in the crowd as tributes were given to a remarkable man and his remarkable life.
The film itself is a collection of long-unseen footage from Pieter-Dirk Uys’ theatrical beginnings in 1969 intercut with recent interviews with theatre doyens such as Eric Abraham and Mannie Manim, and celebrity friends such as Charlize Theron and Sophia Loren, as well as glimpses into the private life of Uys himself. We get to see a different side to this man of so many faces – the face of solitude, the face of family, the supporter of his Darling community, the raw talent that leads him into every single performance unrehearsed and ready for whatever the audience or the current political state of affairs might throw at him.
It is no understatement to call Pieter-Dirk Uys a national treasure. And this beautifully produced documentary captures the multifaceted existence of an extraordinary, humble human being who truly loves others, and who continues to work to enlighten us and to empower us, doing so through his secret weapon: humour.
Nobody’s died laughing was screened at the Cinema Nouveau, V&A Waterfront on 25 July 2016