Official selection "World Cinema"

Pusan International Film Festival 2008


Durban International Film Festival

Best South African Film 2008


Tarifa International Film Festival, Spain 2008

Best Actor - Lionel Newton


New York African Film Festival, Lincoln Centre 2009


"Thumbs up!"   NEWSWEEK





Gillian Slovo, screenwriter and daughter of the late South African political activist Joe Slovo, describes the movie in The Sunday Times as “A tale of incest and white trash, which is funny, feisty and ferociously clever.”


The Capes Times - ☆☆☆☆ - Obligatory viewing !

“... casting is where the real "triumph" of the film lies. Vanessa Cooke gives an excellent performance as the "mother"... Eduan Van Jaarsveldt's performance is brillant, along with that of Lionel Newton.”  >>> read the article (pdf)


Die Berger - ☆☆☆☆ - “Michael Raeburn’s Triomf is funny, shocking, and mad-dog-like, just like the poor white suburb of Triomf can be. Above all, its true quality lies in the characters. For that reason alone the movie strikes us like a highveld rainstorm. …

Raeburn tints the screen with crazy colours almost as if he were in a feverish dream, and often the camera weaves about. There are priceless moments in the movie -- and a whole lot of them -- like when Treppie and Lambert do their wolf aria to the moon, encouraged by Triomf’s choir of mongrel dogs."


The Citizen - “Almost unbearable intensity. Lionel Newton as the paranoid but perceptive Treppie is a blast, losing himself in a quite grotesque character you’d rather just stayed on the screen, and not next door… riveting… moments of real warmth. It’s testament to the quality of both the direction and the acting that, when these do occur, they make you feel uncomfortable, as if you’ve walked in on people being intimate in some way and are unsure of what to say.”


The Mail & Guardian - “… with performances as intense as these, this powerful picture must surely be seen as a triumph for Suid-Afrikaanse filmmaking.”  >>> read the article (pdf)


The Sunday Times - “Triomf is a clever political narrative that the African gods had the good sense to bring us now, when we desperately need it… a powerful story, well told… bare-knuckle honesty… realistic, gripping, disturbing and well executed. Triomf is not for sissies.”  >>> read the article (pdf)


Beeld - “Triomf is a surpising movie that makes you jump with fright as you follow this bunch of people on the margins of society. The film is going to stalk you, hunt you down, and make you laugh and cry.”


The Star - ☆☆☆☆ -  “The tragi-comedy Triomf is not for the faint-hearted. The existential dread and ever-growing tension is leavened somewhat by some surreal comedy… Lionel Newton is anger inchoate as the obstreperous Treppie.”  >>> read the article (pdf)


The Callsheet  - "The movie is wickedly funny and has a unique charm which should make it a winner..."


Time Magazine - Beyond Black and White - "Hollywood loves apartheid’s tales. But South Africans  want to tell the nation’s stories themselves "  >>> read the article (pdf)




The Evening Standard - Derek Malcolm - "This extraordinary film, proclaimed as “not for sissies” by the South African Sunday Times, was made by Michael Raeburn in Triomf, a suburb of Johannesburg where poor white Afrikaners live shoulder by shoulder with equally poverty-stricken blacks. … The action makes the hillbillies in ‘Deliverance’ look like milk and water as it progresses towards something like tragedy. But it also contains a fair amount of pawky humour too. It makes a memorable coda to the Afrikaans cinema that once held sway in South Africa."


The Observer - Philip French - "This disturbing, impressively performed movie by a leading African director, centres on a dysfunctional family of poor whites unravelling tragicomically in a squalid Johannesburg neighbourhood on the eve of the election of South Africa’s first black president in 1994. It’s adapted from an Afrikaans novel by Marlene van Niekerk, that’s been compared with Faulkner. »


Little White Lies - Adam Woodward - "Controversial Zimbabwean-born filmmaker Michael Raeburn isn’t one to shy away from turning an eye to Southern Africa’s social frictions, having illuminated the discord of the region in somewhat merciless light throughout his 30 year career. His sixth feature film, Triomf, is a typically savage portrait of white slumlife in the suburban ruins of Sophiatown, Johannesburg. … It’s a dynamic far removed from that of the average cinemagoer, but somehow these hicksville inhabitants are an amiable bunch; testament indeed to some fine performances and a sharp-eyed script. Shocking, dark yet distinctively compassionate.


TNT Magazine - "Michael Raeburn’s film is a compelling look at a turbulent time in South Africa’s history. Irreverent and dangerously dark."


Time Out - "… savage sense of humour… a smart, scabrous portrait of four repellent individuals…"


The Guardian -  "…Set in the run-up to the historic 1994 election, the Benades’ paranoia about the end of apartheid coincides with a catastrophic family meltdown.  The acting is faultless… a mix of comedy, compassion. "


Sight & Sound - "…Triomf is a story of fragile identities tenaciously fought over. … a mordant parable on the theme of the settler mentality … superbly lit by tyro DP Jamie Ramsay."


BBC 'The Strand' - Harriett Gilbert - "An award-winning film that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, or heard, as it’s the first film in the Afrikaans language to get international cinema distribution… Great performances, especially by Vanessa Cooke… I felt a certain stickiness on them and I could smell them…"




Paris Match ‘South Africa Confronts Its Past’ + France Inter - Christine Haas - "Constructed like a Greek tragedy with irreversible destinies, incest, uncontrollable passions and a family on the point of implosion, the film becomes a metaphor for the history of South Africa. The picturesque humanity caught within this pressure cooker is touching, and evokes the world of Carson McCullers, Flan O’Connor… The tension is constant, the film is gripping, shot in startling digital colours, with bizarre characters played by impressive actors, and with scenes that are a real electro-shock through their cruelty and abrasive realism. Despite its small budget, the film is explosive. "


L'Humanité - Dominique Widemann  - "A punk movie ! … the tragedy of a slice of marginal humanity that hates hating, despises itself for despising, and finds no other solution to this vicious circle than racism and repression. Their consequent failure leaves them helpless. Michael Raeburn has the audacity to fill the screen with the bottomless rage and destructive madness of his characters. He justly compares his film to Brutti Sporchi e Cattivi not just through the crudity of the setting, but through the dark humour. He adds rigorous lucidity and sharp background detail. "


L’Officiel des Spectacles  - "This adaptation of the novel by Marlene van Niekerk had a real success in South Africa where it was voted “Best Film of 2008” at the Durban Film Festival. The film illustrates the suffocation and hate that can take over when people close in on themselves, be it within a family, a community or a nation. "


Le Journal du Dimanche - "Everything is a bit exacerbated in Triomf. But this parable of the end of a world has nothing flippant about it.  The prostitute and the beast as portrayed in the Apocalypse According to Saint John The Baptist are placed front of stage.  Behind them, it’s the metaphor of incest and claustrophobia produced by apartheid that interests Michael Raeburn – marvellous material for the actors."


La Tribune - "Triomf cruelly paints a portrait of a degenerated Afrikaans family. By force of living a closed, introverted existence, the family has developed pathetic and disturbing characteristics. In a delirious, trashy manner, the film reveals with sophistication the paradoxes of this country on the eve of the elections that brought Nelson Mandela to power."


France Inter, Cosmopolitaine - Paula Jacques - "… disturbing and upsetting. A strong film that has to be seen."


African Magazine  - "Social, alcoholic and sexual misery (a shocking incest scene), off-set by tragi-comic moments, a polished cinematic style, and the use of Afrikaans (a first in international theatres), all contribute to the weirdness and the attraction of this film." 


Jeune Afrique Magazine - "A very strong film, a tragedy that also often becomes burlesque such is the limitless madness of the central family."




Triomf : Selection ‘Films from the South’, Pavillon du Sud


Radio France International / Médias France - Michel Amarger


"This new film by Michael Raeburn is a pearl, and one of the most vibrant signs of the sort of films that can be made in South Africa today. At last a digital movie designed for the big screen, with well-constructed images, subtle colorization, individualistic framing and actors directed with a master’s touch. The characters are as truculent as they are touching. The tension is constant from beginning to end. In this explosive spectacle, spectators are compelled to question their own impulses and uncontrolled emotions. By daring to make this film, Raeburn shatters the norms of South African cinema. People used to television will receive an electric shock…. Triomf is the result of independent production that can regenerate the standard landscape of South African cinema."


Africultures, France - Olivier Barlet


"Triomf, this cruel but salutatory film by Michael Raeburn offers an extraordinary, even very extraordinary experience. Its crudity is on a level with that of the apartheid regime, on its way out in 1994 when the film is set."





GFC Newsletter - "Triomf" wins South African Best Film Award 2008  >>> read the article (pdf)

"Michael Raeburn’s film triumphs at Durban International Film Festival ."


Screen Africa - The mother of all ruts

"The new South African / French co-production Triomf blends the aberrant with the ridiculous while being rooted in stark social commentary. With extremely challenging subject matter, the films required an epic effort to make it to screen."




Nokka Magazine - Frighteningly Funny  >>> read the article (pdf)

“Though undoubtedly dark, the story is extremely humorous at the same time.  Marlene van Niekerk has produced a stellar literary work that, with Michael Raeburn in the driving seat, should make for a rich and impacting visual journey which is sure to capture the attention of the international audience.”


Empire Magazine - Triomf against the Odds

"It seems we finally have a great South African story with an accomplished South African cast, an experienced southern African director, and a grippingly real and believable South African script."


The Times - Film Maker Burns Bright  >>> read the article (pdf)

"Raeburn has a default personality - he’s nothing if not tenacious."


The Star - Triumphantly disillusioned  >>> read the article (pdf)

"“Walking scar tissue.” That’s actor Lionel Newton’s description for Treppie, his character drawn from Marlene van Niekerk’s true fable. A life as inauspicious as porcelain ornaments crammed into a display cabinet."


The Mail  & Guardian  >>> read the article (pdf)

“The power of it reminded me of Tennessee Williams, of Sam Shepard…”  


The Witness - Triomf is Re-Born on Screen  >>> read the article (pdf)

“Lekker, Scary, Funny,” that’s what 16 year-old Michael Mellor thinks the movie version of Marlene van Niekerk’s award-winning novel  “Triomf” will be like when it reaches the big screen."


Bleed Newspaper  - Triumphantly  >>> read the article (pdf)

"Controversial South African novel gets artistic life on the big screen." 


Screen International - Raeburn ready to shoot adaptation of Afrikaans bestseller  >>> read the article (pdf)

"Director, writer and producer Michael Raeburn begins photography on tragicomic film of Marlene van Niekerk's Triomf."


Screen Africa - Triomf, an African tale  >>> read the article (pdf)


The South African Times - ‘Armblankes’ story could go world-wide   >>> read the article (pdf)