Dominee Tienie is a man - and movie - for our times

Frank Opperman is Dominee Tienie in kykNET’s Saturday night movie about an ordinary, extraordinary Afrikaans preacher trying to find his way and regain his faith.

The South African church is at a crossroads. It faces falling attendance, dramatic changes and has a flock of diverse worshippers who are seeking guidance but who are as unsure of the future as their leaders. Is there still a place for a traditional Afrikaans minister in the midst of all this?

This touching (and totally non-preachy) kykNET movie sees a man of faith at a pivotal moment, trying to reconnect with his family and find the things that matter most to him. It asks the questions we all ask – about meaning, belief, and our role in life – and has a message of hope and redemption that resonates with all of us, no matter our personal faith.

Here are five things to know about the movie:

1. It has a great cast

Frank Opperman, best known as Ouboet from Orkney Snork Nie, appears in the title role of the middle-aged Dominee Tienie. Henriëtta Gryffenberg plays his wife, while Thapelo Makoena, Carel Nel, Regardt Van Den Bergh, Paul Eilers, Annette Engelbrecht, Luan Jacobs, Izel Bezuidenhout and Deon Lotz round out the cast as some of the diverse congregants and people of the community. How, as a so-called “man of God”, can Dominee Tienie satisfy all of their different needs and expectations of what an Afrikaans church in the modern era should be? The movie is based on a play (designed to be performed in a church) by Dana Snyman.

2. Not a caricature – and not religion

“I didn’t want to make a caricature,” said Frank in an interview when the film was released on the big screen in January this year. “It’s not a movie revolving around caricatures. The movie is also not about religion or about church. It’s about a character: Tienie Benade is a reverend and he wonders about everything. And he tries to find himself.”

3. Exploring life’s truths

“The story is about a guy who forgets about his own children, who neglects his own family, to look after other people. This is a guy with two kids and a wife and they’re tired of their ‘pastor’ dad,” said Frank. “The guy now needs to look after himself, and not just other people.”

4. A modern-day story

Henriëtta Gryffenberg, who plays the pastor’s wife, Ester, says, “It’s a modern-day story about a reverend’s dilemma in which he looks at his job and calling and starts to wonder whether he’s lost his way. We all in South Africa at this point in time feel a bit lost and we long to get to a place where we can ask ‘What is my purpose in life? Why am I doing what I’m doing?’ It’s about a renewed sense of faith, and not being scared to move forward”.

5. Another perspective

Thapelo Mokoena, who plays Zero, encourages viewers to watch the film. “See this film because it could possibly change your perspective. It could change your mindset on certain subjects. I think storytelling is something that constantly provokes and challenges mindsets, and we should walk into it – especially South Africans.”

Watch Dominee Tienie on Saturday 13 July on kykNET (144) at 20:00
Available on Catch Up and DStv Now »