New blog address

3 Feb

We’ve officially moved the Fairhills project blog to a brand new address.
Find us at


Directors interview: Ben Eine

17 Dec

Jaco and Jacques interviewing Bernard Fontannaz, founder of Origin

Jaco Smit (Producer, Director & Writer for Film & Television) has worked in the film industry as an assistant director for a number of years. He has worked on numerous local and international film and television productions including Starship Troopers, District 9, The Runaway, Hopeville and Wild at Heart. He recently started the production company Testify Films with long time friend and director of photography, Jacques Koudstaal.

1. Before Origin Canvasses, did you know Eine or his work at all?
When we were approached to do the project the name “Eine” rang a bell. I’d done a graphics design project many years back and decided to use “Graffiti and Tagging” as the subject matter. In this I stumbled upon Banksy, and indirectly unto Eine, who had worked alongside Banksy for many years. I also got to know more about Faith47 as one of South Africa’s leading street artists, who Ben invited to collaborate with on The Origin Wine Canvas. When I started doing research on Eine, I soon realized how famous he had become predominantly because of the Twenty First Century” piece that now hangs in the White House.

2. What was your goal with this project and how did you achieve that?
It was always a simple premise for the documentation: Eine is an artist, capture him doing what he does best in the most visually pleasing way, and try and get inside his head, which is what we achieved – a documentation of Eine capturing the essence of Fairtrade on an ENORMOUS canvas, with a beautiful result.

3. You shot on a Canon which doubles as a stills and video camera? What were the motivations for the equipment/technical decisions made?
We decided to shoot on the Canon 1D and 5D HDSLR’s. The camera’s are cheap, and allow us to spend more on lenses to make the product look very filmic and high-end. We believe in the HDSLR’s, and it pays off every time. We also had to capture the entire process on a timelapse which called for a dedicated camera to shoot (from the same position) for six days as Eine worked. We used the 5D with an Interlometer-timer, and took 1 frame every 5 seconds, for 6 days. Those frames are then animated to create the time-lapses.

4. What was it like working with Ben?
I’m always nervous when I meet a “subject” for the first time. It sounds very crude but the fact is as a process of documentation, Eine was the subject, and we were the “flies on the wall”. We had to get him comfortable with us, and try and recognize his method as soon as possible to get the most footage out of a given day, but also to get enough to create a “storyline” for the “documentation”.

Ben is an truly visionary artist, but over and above that it was truly a pleasant experience to work with him. He is a natural in front of the camera, and carried and narrated the entire process for us. All we needed to do was to point the cameras in the right direction, and he’d supply the very colorful and excitable goods.

5. Were there any hiccups/difficulties?
The duration of the project was the only real variable. Ben was initially hoping to complete the project in 2 or 3 days, but it later became 5/6, which basically pushed out production. The scaffolding also proved quite a challenge as it was pretty high, and we needed to get gear up and down to keep up with Ben. He zips around the scaffolding like a 16 year old gymnast!

Things started getting tense towards the end . . . Ben had been working four days straight. Time was running out as he had to be back in London, and it was starting to takes it’s toll. We saw this, and in a way had to back-up a bit, giving him space to do what he needed to do. He was amazing. I’m sure many people would normally give up under these kinds of circumstances, but he stuck to his guns and finished in style. I think he also had food poisoning the last day. We only found this out after he’d left, as he’s too much of a pro to complain about anything!

7. What did you schedule look like for those five day. I imagine criminal call times?
We tried to be there as early in the mornings as possible to try and get the “sunrise” type lighting. This was important for the timelapses, as well as staying till after 18h00 in the evening tosunset behind the wine tanks. The days were very long, but lots of coffee, great hospitality at the Origin site and Eine great sense of humor helped us get through it just fine.

8. You could see the reactions of people as the work progressed. How was that?
People were astounded that one man can write so neatly freehand, and due to the scale of the canvas, nobody could really make out what it said. So people were totally dumbstruck by the meaning of it all, pacing up and down trying to figure it out. People from the neighboring farms and the highway nearby would specially drive in to come and take pictures.

9. Your own feelings about the project?
This project is really one of a kind. Testify Films feels really honored to have been involved. You meet someone like Ben Eine, and you go through this emotional journey as he creates a new piece, also the turmoils of creating a piece of this magnitude. It was an unbelievably satisfying experience as a filmmaker, something I hope to experience again.

Fairhills Sports Day Rocks!

7 Nov

The annual Sport Day of the Fairhills Fairtrade Wine Project was held on Saturday 6 November 2010 at the Brandvlei Sportsgrounds in Rawsonville. It is the undisputed highlight on the calendar for the Fairhills Community. The exuberance and excitement that characterizes this day is something you can only grasp when you experience 1200 people cheering for their teams, first hand. Hamilton Pharaoh, a lecturer at the Physiotherapy Department of the University of the Western Cape was a special guest at this event. After a very first excited SMS reading: “Sportdag ruk! (Sports Day rocks!), this is what he had to say:

“Sport has been one of the biggest building blocks in societies all over the world. Even more so in South Africa as sport became a medium for black communities to unite in the Apartheid days. A medium that made people forget about all that is not so good and just enjoy the moments that make heroes of ordinary people on the sports field.

Today I see faces smiling, happy and proud of who they are, where they come from and dare I say it, a future worth dreaming of for generations to come. I see a field of colour as participants today identify themselves with T-shirts and banners depicting the farm they come from.


The words of the MC Suisi Pieterse struck home: “Ons kan skeppend wees”/”We can be creative. As a proud South African this is what I dream of. People who don’t just talk but make the effort to improve the lives of those who play such an important role in building the farms that produce the products that are exported all over the world.   A sentiment that was echoed by the speaker for the day Claud V. Schroeder, Executive  Director: Rural and Social Development Cape Winelands District Municipality: “People all over the world enjoy the fruits of the hard labour, early hours, late nights that farm workers put in every day. Be proud of what you accomplish every day.”

Today, I don’t see farm workers! I see faces full of hope, kids dancing to our World Cup dance anthem, Waka Waka, smiling . . . happy. The dream continues, it is indeed their time to shine…

Hamilton Pharaoh was physiotherapist to the SA Sevens (2001-2002) and SA u/21 physio 2004-2006

Soon to come: Ben Eine at Origin Wine

5 Nov

World famous UK street artist Ben Eine did an explosive overhaul of five 120’000 liter tanks at Origin Wine, partner of the Fairhills wine project.  Testify Films captured this colourful venture on film.  You’ll see the full version right here soon.


Fairhills supports streetpaper in Amsterdam

5 Nov

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The Amsterdam streetpaper Zet Magazine celebrated it’s 15th birthday last night at the vibey Desmet Studio in Amsterdam. Fairhills was present as one of the sponsors of the event, following through on it’s commitment to support initiatives where the brand is present that add value to people’s lives in the same way it does for it’s project beneficiaries.

Also present at the event was the Mayor of  Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, who had very encouraging words for ZET. Van der Laan, dressed in official attire said that he was honored to be mayor to people investing in their own upliftment.

“When I wear this chain, people think I am showing off. When I leave it at home, they are disappointed. I never know going to events what to do. Tonight I am wearing it to show the official support of my office to you,” he said.

Fairhills enables opening of health center for community

24 Oct

6 October 2010 was indeed a very happy day. After months of planning and building, the El Martillo Clinic was opened. This partnership between the community of Martillo, Fairhills Argentina and the Municipality of Junín was initiated on 9 February 2010. The opening was attended by dignitaries and proud community members. At last, they could look forward to proper, regular health care. The El Martillo Health Center is another example of Fairtrade adding dignity to people’s lives.

Read the article on the construction of the clinic here.

Music, laughter and good wine

13 Oct

This weekend was the Outdoor Festival in the Breede Valley in Rawsonville. Charlet Moses got a glimpse of the main attraction at Du Toitskloof Cellar, Ollie Viljoen and Valiant Swart.

The festival is all about wine tasting and having fun. The wine cellars have various activities running as each try to get the visitors’ attention. For a festival pass that only costed R40-00 you could taste as much wine as you wanted at any cellar you wanted.  Du Toits Kloof wine cellar, partner of the Fairhills Project, invited two musicians to entertain the crowd on Friday night. They were the two Afrikaans stars Ollie Viljoen, stalwart of Boeremusiek (a traditional form of Afrikaans music) and Valiant Swart, Afrikaans rocker. All the tickets were sold out for the preformance. Ollie and Valiant stepped on stage at 20h00 and was greeted by loud applause from the crowd.

Ollie, far left, and Valiant under the spotlight at Du Toitskloof.

They started with one of the songs from their new album , Wild en Wakker (wild and awake). Valiant jokingly said, the album was called “wild en wakker” because Ollie, who is well ahead of him in years, is wild and awake. The crowd was down on the ground laughing.  That got the show off on a good note with lots of laughter, but it was not the end of it. After the first song Valiant first asked the crowd if he should sing harder, but then said he couldn’t, and they actually also shouldn’t, because they all should save their voices to cheer on the Western Province rugby team, which was playing the next day. Rugby is huge in the Rawsonville community so this comment hit the right spot with the crowd.

If the duo proved one thing besides the fact that they are skilled musicians — Valiant on guitar and Ollie on the accordion — it is that they know how to entertain a crowd and keep them glued to their seats. They did not only play the music but also shared with the crowd details of their songs, pulling them in and making them enjoy the show even more.

They did two sets and inbetween joined the rest of the people for a warm dinner. The food was prepared by the Fairhills Coffee Shop and severed by the Fairhills waiters.  The evening was a combination of music, laughter and good wine.