‘Airwalker’, latest in ‘Fathers Matter’ movie series deals with children caught between fighting parents

Screenshot from Airwalker

Airwalker, the latest film in the Heartlines Fathers Matter series explores how children get caught in the messiness of conflicting parents.

The fifth of the six short films in the series will be on SABC 2 this Saturday (October 15) at 8,25pm.

Zoë (Amelie Pienaar) is a gifted young skateboarder whose talent earns her a spot in a promo for her favourite skate park. But her parents, Bridget (Jana Kruger) and Mike (Paul du Toit), are separated, and
their continual fighting affects her deeply. Zoë repeatedly finds herself a pawn in their conflict.

Caught between their lies and constant arguments, a frustrated Zoë lands up in a life-threatening situation. But is this enough to give her parents a reality check?

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“The film [explores] how children can take responsibility for problems that are actually their parents’
problems, and how that can mess them up,” says writer and director, Tim Greene. “There are a lot of men
who find themselves in a position where they’re not able to be great dads. I think it’s important for them to realise the value that they have and, by not being a present, focused father, how much damage they can do.

“And how much value they can add if they can start giving love into that child’s life.”

Each of the films in the Fathers Matter series seeks to incorporate values-based storylines that encourage
viewers to engage with key themes. In this film, we see the damage that can be caused in a child’s life
when their parents don’t get on with each other or compete for their child’s affection.

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Zoë became angry and lonely because of her parents’ conflict. Many young people can identify with this. Growing reports also show an increase in depression and suicidal ideation in young people, especially those experiencing family turmoil.

“It’s very difficult to build that relationship and to trust your dad, who you think is the one who hurt your mom so badly,” says actor Jana Kruger of her role as Zoë’s mother, Bridget. “If the mom realises that [by]
allowing the child to still have a relationship with their father, she is doing her kid the best favour she could ever do.”

The film also focuses on the importance of father figures, including social fathers, in children’s lives. “It’s
time that we take responsibility as fathers, as men, in South Africa specifically, there are so many absentee
fathers in our country,” says actor Keenan Arrison, who plays the role of Rufus, a mentor and father-figure
to Zoë.

“Changing perceptions and behaviours around fatherhood can only be done as a collective effort involving thousands, if not millions, of South Africans,” says Garth Japhet, the CEO and founder of Heartlines.

“Our hope is to start conversations amongst parents, families, sports teams, in classrooms and offices … fathers matter, because children and mothers matter.”

To watch Airwalker, tune into SABC 2 on Saturday 15 October at 20:25, or stream it on TelkomONE.
To find out more about the films and download the discussion guides, go to www.fathersmatter.org.za

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