Custodians of the Countryside (2009)

Development / 48m / Feature / Documentary


Rosendal, a small town in the Eastern Free State province, was established in the 19th century, and became a town in 1913. From its inception, it remained extremely basic, and almost ceased to exist with the depopulation of the rural areas at the beginning of the '90s. The new millennium brought renewal to this isolated town when artists and bohemians, tired of city life, made this peaceful, crime-free hamlet their home. Simultaneously, the population of the neighbouring town of Mautse quadrupled as destitute farm workers moved to the only outpost that could offer them shelter. Within two years, the town's economy shifted from agriculture to tourism and culture. Power relations shifted, and the white conservative patriarchal custiodians of this landscape had to concede power to a diversity of new voices. The transition was not always smooth. Now, unscrupulous investors are following the dollar as property prices boom. The new custodians have barely settled in and already they are fighting off golf estates and property developers. This documentary studies the dynamics of this outpost as a microcosm of life in South Africa.

Directed by Wessel van Huyssteen


Afrikaans, English, Sesotho, Zulu
English Subtitles
South Africa
South Africa
Southern Africa


Wessel van Huyssteen T:+27 82 8503426