Inspired by the life and times of John Kepe, the Samson of the Boschberg, Sew the Winter To My Skin is a poetic chronicling of the escapades, arrest and trial of the Robin Hood-esque man of the mountain who managed to steal from farmers and elude capture for years during the 1950’s in South Africa. Beginning with Kepe’s final mission before capture, Sew the Winter to my Skin pieces the legend together from multiple perspectives, including that of the white farmers, the town militia, a torn journalist covering Kepe’s trial, farm labourers and the locals. In his ultimate sacrifice Kepe takes on responsibility for a murder he did not commit in an attempt to ensure a future for the guilty young boy who murdered a farm labourer in order to protect Kepe. Sew the Winter to my Skin explores the futility of the white settlers’ preoccupation with the preservation and protection of their ideals and physical possessions. It is a film about the search for a hero amongst victimized black people
Sew the Winter to my Skin has been a passion project of mine for years now. Spending my teen years in the small town of Somerset East exposed me to the legend of John Kepe, a man who spent his days in a cave on the mountain, who spent his life preparing for something that no one else knew about. As with most stories I hear, I immediately began devising ways in which to tell it. The epic nature of his capture, the spiritual poetry of his calling, the backdrop of the sleepy town, the impending horror of Apartheid and the power of the man and his fervent belief in something greater than himself. This is an authentic South African story that creates a hero, a people’s champion in a time where local heroes were not rewarded or immortalized.