Over the years, Stefan Enslin’s life changed its course time and time again and the professions in which he found himself simply did not want to sit comfortably.
However, a life-changing men’s weekend and a holy meeting opened the doors to a world he could only dream about until now.
Today, Stefan is recognized as a well-known South African storyteller, with films such as Shooting star, Bow tie, Zero is nothing and Dear Father Christmas behind his name.
Although he only started making movies later in his life, he knows that the fire that burns in his heart to tell stories will never be extinguished.
Earlier this year, he received two nominations for the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) for his documentaries, War dogs and I and Against all odds: The Alwyn Uys Story.
The production of these two documentaries had a significant impact on his outlook on life, Stefan tells RNews.
A war life trapped in War dogs and I
“I heard on the radio from Kobus Olivier, the CEO of the Ukrainian Cricket Association. It was at that stage one day before the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out, and Kobus still sounded very optimistic,” recalls Stefan.
“He had the opportunity to leave Kiev, but he was not prepared to leave his four dogs behind. There and then he decided to live in an apartment with his dogs.”
Stefan did not let him wait to get in touch with Kobus for a possible documentary film. Before long, Kobus began capturing his daily activities and challenges on his iPhone 7 smartphone.
Today, it amazes Stefan to think what path the documentary took with him, Kobus and the four dogs. Kobus’s struggle for survival in a war-torn Ukraine captivated Stefan day after day.
After a while in the apartment, Kobus had to flee out of necessity. He found a lift for him and his dogs to another country, although this journey was not as simple as he initially hoped it would be.
“A trip that was supposed to be 16 hours by vehicle turned into a four-week trip.”
For Stefan, a Safta nomination was not the goal, although he considers it a belt under the heart for Kobus and his dogs.
“They really showed that where there is hope, there is a possibility for a miracle.”
A paraplegic with a dream
The story of Alwyn Uys, a paraplegic who once dreamed of becoming a Springbok rugby player, stimulated Stefan almost immediately.
He knew that this young man’s story, who despite the circumstances faces new challenges daily, should not be swept under the rug.
“Alwyn was in an accident that left him a paraplegic,” says Stefan.
“However, he had this dream of swimming from Robben Island to Eden on the Bay in Bloubergstrand. A journey of eight kilometers in the icy Atlantic ocean.”
However, this swim presented unique challenges for Alwyn, as it would be a huge health risk if the water was not exactly the right temperature.
Against all odds: The Alwyn Uys Story tells the story of Alwyn’s perseverance to achieve his dream, something he eventually achieved.
“He had this unwavering belief that he would make it. It was incredible.”
Life changing stories
The path Stefan walked with Kobus and Alwyn is something he will never be able to forget.
The lessons he learned in the filming process will be etched in his heart forever, he says.
“A person so often comes to a place where you feel that you are not good enough, that you do not have the talent or the ability to accomplish certain things,” he says.
“And then you look at Alwyn and Kobus, and their perseverance, and then you realize that you simply have to believe in yourself. Everything is possible, it’s all about your mindset. If you tell yourself you can’t do it, you’ve already lost the battle.”
This perseverance is reminiscent of Stefan’s own life path and the fact that he almost couldn’t live out his dreams himself.
Even though Stefan already wrote his first screenplay as a 14-year-old, he only started working in the entertainment industry in 2011.
“My life path took different turns with me,” Stefan told RNews.
At the time, he began studying theology at the University of the Free State, although it was not long before he moved to a course in architecture. After a year, he realized that a career in architecture was not for him.
He eventually obtained a degree in city and regional planning at the North-West University, although this direction did not make his heart beat faster either. In the early 2000s, shortly after completing his studies, Stefan went to England to seek greener pastures.
However, his life changed irrevocably after he attended a men’s weekend in South Africa. While he was sitting alone in the field, he had a holy encounter with the Lord.
“I realized that I read so many books on how to make millions, that I completely forgot to read a book on how to reach millions.
“The Lord made me realize that he gave me a talent for storytelling for a reason, and that I must start living it out.”
Before long he qualified as a screenwriter, and he packed his bags and moved back to South Africa to start a path as a screenwriter.
“The Lord spoke to me loud and clear that day – this is where my life turned around.”
- War dogs and I and Against all odds: The Alwyn Uys story is currently available on Showmax.