MY HEART OF DARKNESS by Eden Film & Gebrueder Beetz productions

Four war-veterans, former enemies journey back to past battlefields deep within the African interior in search of reconciliation, forgiveness and … atonement?

Directors Staffan Julén and Marius van Niekerk

“There are two kinds of men, those who dream of war and those who have nightmares of war” Marius van Niekerk

The characters in our film, MY HEART OF DARKNESS, are men who have nightmares of war. Forcefully recruited into the military at an early age, often to fight against their own countrymen. Four men, four stories entwined, four fucked-up lives. Always ready to crack, to strike out even against those they love? Why do they snap awake in the middle of the night, running, sweating, pursued, terrified?

MY HEART OF DARKNESS, a journey of reconciliation into the dark African jungle, into a psyche so tainted with years of colonisation, religious brainwash, superstition and witchcraft, where history seems unnoticed, mistakes repeated over and over again, where lies are true until discovered, where life’s worth as much as a bullet, a journey that took us into the darkest of our own souls.

It is undeniably a story that becomes frightening and cruel the farther we churned up that river. Nevertheless, deep down there is a flicker of hope, of human hope that tells of a will to change and the painful insight that shows the contrast of cruelty and selfishness… to dare to love your enemy.

As story infinite and universal, that all can relate to, even if you haven’t been in a war yourself. As more young boys return from Afghanistan to peaceful Sweden wrapped up in body bags, one often wanders what it take to quench the warmonger’s of this world’s thirst for blood, how many bodies will it take to still their hunger for death and destruction… and what will it take to cleanse all that?

During the nearly four years of working on the film, following the veterans journey up the river, closer and closer to their own hearts of darkness, we too had to delve deeper and deeper into our very own souls, our owns doubts but we had to go there to fully understand this process, to participate in that final blood cleansing ceremony. It was inspiring to watch our characters change and transform from former enemies to friends, and made us realise that veterans the world over, have many similarities and much to share and learn from each other. Deep down there the roots are at work, very often, with no one to encourage them.

They are true role models, risking proving to themselves and also to us, that reconciliation is possible and that war is fucked up, and that most people just want to live a peaceful life.

Stockholm 05 November 2010

Thursday, 29 September 2011


MY HEART OF DARKNESS. A successful screening hosted by German co-producer Christian Beetz at the Babylon Mitte, with both directors Staffan Julén & Marius van Niekerk in attendance. Having your film's German premier in mother city BERLIN is an amazing event. A huge diverse, throbbing city with lots of soul, s......till laid-back COOL. With a current social history exhibited in fascinating graffiti on both new and old buildings still not repaired from the occupation, the Babylon Mitte, where our film was shown, is a cosy little 100 seater just around the corner from the famous Alexanderplatz.

The sensitive, beautifully done German voice-over (German Laurence Fishburne), in harmony with DoP Peter Östlund's spectacular cinematography  captured the audience in the fully packed auditorium, from beginning to end. To hear the narration in another voice, worked in a surprising way, revealing a different, reflective truth. Very exiting. The capturing debate afterwards made one realise that there are still lots of unresolved trauma here and a feeling of denial difficult to hide. And there was still guilt too, guilt of what was done by people we know. Just this is a rewarding feeling, that if our film can create a platform for such discussion to take place, we have succeeded in a very difficult task. Also special about this screening was that two close friends daughters, one travelling and the other studying in Berlin, came. Thanks Tove & Ellen. And with a delicious German sparkling wine, the evening was nicely rounded off in the spacious Babylon Cinema foyer. Berlin is a city I am definitely going to visit again soon. Marius

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


"Your documentary is absolutely brilliant and quite haunting. I was dreaming about it last night. I can't get some of those images out of my mind. I really think it's an extraordinarily courageous film, as well as a very important film. Respect!

It is also an extremely powerful anti-war statement. It's so brutally honest and shows up all those skynheilige drogredenasies of the retired generals and apologists on the right, the people who are now saying the border war was justified because that's what brought about the political dispensation we have now. There's another good Afrikaans word for that: kakstorie. Thank you, once again. It was a privilege to have been there last night. Best wishes, Anthony." Anthony Ackerman- South African playwright/dramatist (Somewhere On The Border)

"Good luck with your film's journey. I think you have made a fine film, navigated the uncharted and treacherous waters carefully and compassionately - very tricky editing in terms of tone -  using the river as metaphor was genius -  And I think it will resonate deeply with all who see it, veterans or not. " Jenny Hicks, Film producer Cowgirl Films (32 Batt feature) 

Saturday, 10 September 2011


Sieh Mchawala (Barefoot in Ethiopia), David Vadiveloo (Voices from the Cape), Jack Lewis (Tac-Taking Haart) & Marius van Niekerk (My Heart of Darkness) at Maponya Mall Soweto, Bioscope, Tri-Continental Fest 2011

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Comments after our Swedish Cinema Premier at Bio Zita Stockholm April 2011

Jennifer Kestis Ferguson wrote
"Marius. Thank you for the courage, the massive 'uithouvermoe'' that it took to get The Story told. The act of 'creation' is a powerful counterpoint to our world's insanity, as well as the madness we all hold within ourselves. 'My heart of darkness' is very powerful and deeply unsettling work, where the circumstance of war transforms ordinary boys into the de-humanised. It howls to us that we have to find another way, than war, to deal with conflict. By obeying your heart's unwavering imperative to undertake a journey  confession of truth, both the asking, and the painful cultivation of receiving, forgiveness, you with your amazing team, will help many others who still have to face the memories of war horror: For, 'as you heal yourself, you heal the world.' Blessings on you, my brother."