Survivor of horror PE attack excited about new film
MORE than two decades after a horrific ordeal that nearly claimed her life, Alison Botha is looking forward to the release of a documentary film about how she survived the life-changing brutal rape and attack.
Speaking on the sidelines of a fundraiser for Dynamic Karate Incorporated at Verkenner Primary School at the weekend, Alison, 48 – who had previously declined offers to tell her story through film – said she wanted to be sure a director honoured her story.
Also a motivational speaker now based in George, Alison returned to Port Elizabeth to help raise funds for three karatekas to attend the eighth JSKA World Karate Championships in Namibia in July.
Asked about the documentary film – expected to be released in August – Alison said while she had told her story in her best-selling book I Have Life, doing the same through film had come with its own challenges.
“I believe in sharing my story because I see the difference it makes in people’s lives, but film is very different,” she said. “In books you can explain things through the pages, whereas with film it’s a bit more scary because you ask: ‘What if the person doesn’t portray the story correctly? ”
The documentary will take the audience on a journey back to December 18 1994 and will include reenactments of that fateful evening, with interviews from people involved in her rescue.
The former Collegiate Girls’ High School headgirl said a feature film was also in the pipeline. Asked about going back to the scene of the horrendous crime, Alison said it had been “a bit nervy”, but she had been able to relive it without any hard feelings.
She had done so with ghostwriter Marianne Thamm, who had helped with the book. “I had people with me and it was not as scary as it was that night, but it was more meaningful,” she said. “When doing the book you get into a certain space. I think I just detached myself and I had to relive it for her [Thamm], but I was somehow able to cope with going back there.”
Filming rights were given to film director Uga Carlini, from Towerkop Productions in Cape Town. “I have liked and trusted Uga from the first moment I met her,” Alison said. “I have always known that I had to be 100% comfortable that the director of such a project would honour my story the way I need it to be told.”
The film was shot mainly in George and Cape Town, while footage of the various areas that highlighted that night was filmed in Port Elizabeth. Alison admits she gets excited when talking to younger audiences because many of them had not been born when the horror attack took place.
“The main message I want to get across is that, while there is always going to be tough stuff happening to you in your life, at the end of the day your life is not the tough stuff that happens to you, but how you deal with it,” she said.
Alison also spoke of the significance of the butterfly ring she wears, as well as a butterfly on the cover of her book. “We put a butterfly on the cover of my book, because I had a quote about a butterfly.
“It read: ‘You don’t know what you [are] capable of until you go through the hardest things.’ “For me this was always so symbolic to my story because, like butterflies, one goes through the evolution from a caterpillar dying to a beautiful butterfly being born,” she said.