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Dust Devil (1985)
Rites of Passage

Dust Devil (around 1985)

Here lies the foundation of Dust Devil the feature; A 16mm student film inspired by the unsolved ritual murders in Bethany, Namibia. According to the locals the murders were conducted by a Nama tribal called Nhadiep. Nhadiep, who killed only his fellow tribe members, was rumored to be indestructible, a shapeshifter and able to fly with the wind.

Richard Stanley has described the unfinished short as a stripped-down version of Dust Devil the feature. It would've featured a cast of three, with a woman picking up the hitchhiker, who murders her and burns her car, walking away into the desert.

Actor Russell Copley's site has more on this:

"Originally in January 1985, Richard Stanley and Greg Copeland approached Russell to play the character "Hitch" in Dust Devil. He was to play opposite Michelle Botes. It was an ill-fated affair as the six of them headed North from Cape Town to the Namib Desert. They all had great expectations, but there was little finance, a very bad VW Beetle, a car smash which resulted in two of the crew being hospitalized, and a confrontation with both the great Namib as they explored its more hidden forces. There was also weirdness on a freaky night when they witnessed two neo-nazi policemen beating the hell out of each other in a three story motel in Luderitz.

South Africa erupted in full scale civil war during the period they were filming. Reflecting on this experience, it was as if they were being given a strong message about the violence that was now surfacing in the land, both physically and psychologically. To dodge the draft to the South African Defence force, five of the six of them left the country within eighteen months.

When the movie finally got made in 1991, Richard Stanley kindly offered Russell the available role of Constable Botes, a cop. Russell was an honoured to go back to the same tracks they had explored before, but this time with a multi-million dollar budget and both actor and director taking on purely artistic responsibilities." [Text and picture from Russell Copley's site.]

A film truer to the actual Nhadiep incident is David Wicht's Windprints.

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