Leave Us a Review
  • Jakhalsdans
  • 96 minutes  -  Drama
  • Original title: Jakhalsdans
  • Director:Darrel Roodt
  • Language: Afrikaans
  • Country: South Africa

A young mother moves to the small town of Loxton, in the Karoo region of South Africa. There, she finds that the local school will be forced to close its doors, unless something can be done to raise money. She comes up with the idea of organizing a concert and enlisting her standoffish neighbor - who, she discovers, is a former famous singer - as one of the featured artists.

Watch the trailer
REVIEW BY Sancheo Lawrence Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 01/09/2013

A widowed schoolteacher, Mara Malan (Elizma Theron), moves with her six-year-old daughter Mia to Loxton, a tiny town in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape province. There, she finds herself in little more than a village, barely remembered for a dam which broke in 1961, where gravel roads and carts pulled by donkeys are the order of the day. When school starts, she finds it’s in peril of being closed down due to lack of financing.

Meanwhile, her daughter notices their hermit neighbor and attempts to befriend him. In response, he writes a letter for her mum, asking her to please adhere to “platteland” (flatlands) conduct and control her daughter. Greatly offended, Mara replies that her daughter has wasted her efforts to be kind and loving. She quotes from the Bible, Matthew 7:6, and promises that she will no longer allow her daughter to “throw her pearls before the swine.” Mara decides to save the school, drawing up a business plan based on requesting farmers to donate sheep. Some funds are raised, but 300,000 rand (the South African currency) are still needed in order to make a difference.

"The culture of the Karoo region: everyone must look at everyone else in the eye with his or her head held high."

Mia plays a huge role in the movie. Amid all the grief and trepidation, she sets out to find a medicine for sadness. Her mother suggests that by being organized, neat, and tidy, one can prevent sadness. There is also a CD, which she listens to when that does not work. Mia then inquires with Dawid, a non-committing, self-professed poet, troubadour, repair man, and liedjieboer (literally translated as “song farmer,” meaning songwriter), played by Neil Sandilands (undeniably one of South Africa’s most compelling, talented, and versatile actors). He replies that he sings the pain out of his system, and if that does not help, he drinks his sorrows away. He then uses a beautiful analogy, that when the dam broke 40 years earlier, the sun baked the soil so hard and dry that nothing would grow, except a mielie (or corn). Therefore, if she were to dig a hole, plant a mielie, and bury it with sand, it would grow. The music that does not come out is hard mielie and the sand is love. As the sand softens the mielie, so love softens the hardest of hearts.


Mia brings her hermit neighbor medicine, a mielie kernel for his heartache. She shows him how to plant it, because then the music will come from his heart, and when that happens, his heart will soften again. Later, Mia arranges a stage production for Dawid to perform before her mum and friends, in order to get the “music out of his heart.” Before his debut, he uses the Anglicism “stage fright,” which, he explains in mixed English, is when reality clashes with your inner troubadour. He tells Mia to ask her mom for a “knertsie” brandy, a slang term meaning “a little bit.”

This little serenade becomes the solution Mara has been seeking, and she decides to get big stars like Bok van Blerk, Robbie Wessels, Juanita du Plessis, and Ruan Landman to perform before 3000 people and save the school. These are all top South African performers, except for Ruan Landman, who is fictitious.

Mia goes back to check on her hermit friend. He reports to her that he wrote a new song, and Mia discloses to him that her mother is trying to arrange a concert to save the school. She also decides that he is still in need of love. Her mother, in the meantime, has been searching for her, and she is besides herself when she finds out her daughter is in the horrid hermit’s house. She screams out, lashing at him and referring to him as a sick, lonely man.

"Ruan Landman is played by probably the most famous current Afrikaans singer and songwriter, Theuns Jordaan"

But, when Dawid hears the hermit playing his guitar, he shouts “Hierts jy!” - a fabulous term indicating excitement and jubilation (and which is somewhat lost in the subtitles, which read “Hello”). Then, it dawns on Mara who the hermit is and she apologizes, addressing him as “Sir,” which annoys him even further. She then refers to him as “Mister Landman,” and he replies that she is desperate and in need of his help, but he no longer performs because of people like her. He packs his things and drives off in a temper, but knocks over Mia.

The school headmaster then explains the culture of the Karoo region: everyone must look at everyone else in the eye with his or her head held high. If anyone wishes to assist in saving the school, he suggests, he or she can report there. Dawid is the first musician to offer his services. "A song sung in solitude is no song at all," he explains, adding: “I will be there even if they have to drag me on stage with a tractor, but I am there!” Ruan Landman then enters the hall, acknowledging Mia and Dawid, and promises to deliver the biggest concert ever in the Karoo. “Landman jou yster!,” responds Dawid, a common colloquialism referring to a man of strength and honor, which translates into “Landman you iron!”

Ruan Landman is played by probably the most famous current Afrikaans singer and songwriter, Theuns Jordaan, who released his first album in 2000 at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, surpassing triple platinum status in July 2003. As for the movie, it premiered on February 27, 2010, in Jakhalsdans, just outside Loxton, where it raised funds for the local school and children.