Cape Town – “There’s only one Fiela.”
This is the sentiment uttered by veteran SA actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards, 64, when she first heard of the remake of the iconic film, Fiela se Kind.
Shaleen played the lead role of Fiela Komoetie, a woman with a heart of gold who takes in a “hanskind” (foster child) found dumped on her doorstep.
The new Fiela se Kind, set for release countrywide in September, features Namibian-born actress Zenobia Kloppers, 45, in the lead.
Shaleen told the Daily Voice: “Daar’s net een Fiela, ek is al Fiela wat ek ken en verder wiet ek niks. (There’s only one Fiela. I’m the only Fiela that I know and beyond that i don’t know anything).”
Fiela se Kind was adapted from the Dalene Matthee novel in 1988 under direction by Katinka Heyns.
Set in the Knysna forest in the 19th century, the story centres on a coloured woman and her family who adopt an abandoned white boy, Benjamin.
Unaware of a remake, Shaleen says: “If they did another Fiela, that’s them. As far as I’m concerned I am the only Fiela.
“I know Zenobia and she is a lovely young girl. I didn’t even know when they made the movie.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about the movie, but I don’t know who the people are who made the movie. Nobody mentioned this to me, maybe they wanted a new Fiela.
“But I mean, really, that was the part of a lifetime and I enjoyed it tremendously.”
Zenobia says she is honoured to play the role.
“I know I will never be able to replace Shaleen and this film isn’t made to replace her, but it’s a known character and we are creating a fresh approach with this film.
“I’ve played the role of Fiela in theatre ten years ago… and stood in for Shaleen last year for two weeks in the theatre piece of Fiela se Kind.”
Benjamin is played by Luca Bornman and Wayne Smith.
The new film is directed by Brett Michael Innes and produced by Danie Bester.