Local Director Wins International Film Award | Inspire
Local Director Wins International Film Award
People to Watch
People to Watch

Local Director Wins International Film Award

Elegant camera work, a killer location, memorable models, on- trend clothing and a sense of humour – all the ingredients for an exceptional mini movie.

At the fourth Mercedes-Benz Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival in Cape Town, The Dakar Express scooped the Best Picture award. Director Peter Verster-Cohen, founder of Video Cartel, explains the inspiration behind his award-winning fashion film.

What do you think of the fashion film genre as a whole?

The fashion film genre is growing locally and internationally. It's not a new phenomenon – fashion and film are meant to be friends – but it's a fun space to push the boat out and be creative. Narrative within the fashion aesthetic really excites me. As a director/videographer, I've done the "model walking down the street" thing for too long and it starts feeling shallow. With fashion films you can get the personality of the brand across. Narratives, if executed properly, can be really powerful.

Is this genre growing in popularity?

Initiatives such as the Mercedes-Benz Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival really help in giving the genre credibility and allowing more purpose, time and money to go into creating amazing fashion film pieces. There is a definite trend of comedy coming through – which I think fashion needs. It can take itself very seriously sometimes.

What are you trying to say in your award-winning film?

lt's super tongue-in-cheek, with a little positive message: ";If you want to go quickly go alone, if you want to go far go together". Every character in the film has their own spice and together they make a pretty superb team. If the viewer watches to the end and wants to see more, then I did my job. Another goal was to include product without it feeling contrived. For me, that's the difference between good and bad fashion films.

How did you choose your location and actors?

The Superbalist team had a vision to shoot its winter campaign somewhere in Africa. An abandoned train station in Dakar, Senegal, emerged as the perfect setting for a Wes Anderson-style shoot. A local contact helped us street-cast interesting looking "models". Only one on the cast could speak English, so I did a lot of acting myself to get the right performance – which was both challenging and funny. Sometime you have a lucky day and that one-day shoot was one of them. Everything came together so beautifully. We even had time for a swim afterwards.

What inspires you, and what inspired you to make The Dakar Express?

Inspiration for this film was obviously film director Wes Anderson, who's famous for his aesthetic comedies The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Life Aquatic. His attention to detail is incredible. He actually watched The Dakar Express and said he liked it – which pretty much made my year! In general, I'm inspired by spoken conversations, reading and urban legends. Discover more Mercedes-Benz lifestyle news and ideas here

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