Haunting SA film 'Tess' depicts complex realities of sex work

The South African feature film Tess is being screened for a limited run at the V&A Waterfront's Cinema Nouveau this week, in order to make it eligible for submission to the Oscars’ Foreign Film category.

Tess is the story of a drug-addicted Cape Town sex worker and how her life is impacted by an unexpected pregnancy.

WATCH: Tess film trailer

Film director Meg Rickards says she used her cinematic experience shooting documentary work to create the highly visual feature film.

We wanted to use the the shooting style of documentary to the film so that it would feel naturalistic and organic.

Meg Rickards, Film director of Tess

The production team interviewed local sex workers and used several real locations to create the narrative.

She explains that the film is not meant to be a representation of all sex workers' lives, instead Rickards hopes the film initiates a public dialogue.

It's a story first and foremost. We wanted it to feel realistic, but it's not meant to be a documentary or a advocacy film.

Meg Rickards, Film director of Tess

Tess is Rickards' first big screen feature film after previously working in the documentary film genre.

The film is based on the novel Whiplash by Tracey Farran and it has been five years in the making.

Rickards had to wait until a previous film option on the book expired before she could start working on the the project in 2011.

Tess was well-received at the Durban International Film Festival, picking up Best Editing and Best Actress.

The film will be officially released at cinemas nationwide in February 2017.

Listen to the full conversation from The Pippa Hudson Show:

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