Hartland (Heartland) is a South African, Afrikaans-language television drama series created by Deon Opperman, produced by Bottom Line Entertainment and based on Opperman's stage plays Kaburu, Stille Nag and Goesman, My Seun, which tells the story of an Afrikaner family and how the personal choices that they execute in their daily lives also have an influence on the rest of the family members.
It is the third instalment of Opperman's "Afrikaner" trilogy, with Kruispad (which aired on kykNET in 2010) being the middle part. Donkerland, the first in the trilogy, was the final instalment to be produced.
Hartland tells the story of an Afrikaner family in South Africa and how their personal choices, that they execute in their daily lives, also have an influence on the rest of the family members.
The show was filmed in and around Lonehill, Johannesburg, as well as Pretoria.
Under the directorship of Gerrit Schoonhoven, assistant director Jozua Malherbe and the head of photography Jonothan Kovel, the well-known contours of the city and its surrounding areas were reborn through the Zeiss super speed lenses and the Sony F-3, the newest addiction to the South African camera market.
Hartland is the first series in South Africa to be filmed with this camera and the technology speaks for itself – crystal clear images that refreshes the already known landscapes to give it a distinctively new look.
The drama itself is a dissection of what makes a family tick, and is a testament to "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
Every episode charters new territory in the established relationships between the characters, and begins and ends with a monologue from one of the principal cast.
It lays bare the themes of Afrikaner identity, what the future of the Afrikaner is or could be at the southernmost tip of Africa, the complexity and formation of this identity, the sins of the fathers and the role of forgiveness.
Ouma Cilliers (Wilna Snyman) is the matriarch of the Cilliers family, and her family consists of the two brothers Adriaan (André Odendaal) and Jan (Marius Weyers), and their sister Rika (Brumilda van Rensburg).
Ouma is the last bastion of the old South African generation, and is just as much bound to her wheelchair as the old Kruger Rand in her left hand.
Jan is married to Maria (Sandra Prinsloo), and they had three children: Francois, Boetjan (David Rees) and Elna (Hanli Rolfes). According to Maria, Francois died in duty to his country on the border, but Boetjan knows a little bit more than his mother.
Elna is married to Bertus (Anrich Herbst) and lives in Canada with their teenage son Neil (Stefan Vermaak).
When Jan turns 65, a huge celebration is planned. But the celebrations soon come to an abrupt end when more than one family secret is unveiled.
Zweli Sibanyoni (Denzel Edgar) is an ad hoc member of this particular family structure, as well as the family business, African Queen Cosmetics.
Antoinette (Franci Swanepoel), Adriaan's wife, is a woman with plans (inside and outside of the bedroom and boardroom), and it looks like their daughter, Elisabeth (Elné Pretorius), is just as lethal as Antoinette when it comes to the opposite sex.
Vlooi (Andrew Thompson) is a dark horse, but the plans in his shaven little head probably matches those of the dark hearts of the rest of this particular family unit.
Rika's husband is Dominee Rudi Naude (Johan Scholtz). He rules his family like he does his congregation – with an iron fist and the fear of God.
Gerhard (Vaughan Gardiner) and Esme (Nadia Beukes) are obedient kids that know the tyranny of God all too well, as does their mother. That is, until the day that Hannes (Gerard Rudolf) lands on their doorstep, to ask Rudi for God's forgiveness – something that is all too familiar territory for Rudi.
But Hannes isn't the only one that is threatening to destroy this household – Christine Swanepoel (Amanda Strydom) also has a dark secret to share – and her secret will shake the foundations of the respected dominee and his "close-knit" family.
Love and treachery knows no bounds – just ask De Wet (Gys de Villiers) and Davids (Quanita Adams), the modern day Sherlock Holmes and Watson, who have to solve the case of an apparent heist. The case isn't as simple as it seems – it looks like there might be a connection with the infamous Die Ploegskaar bar – but what could it possibly be?
The 13 episodes start with Jan Cilliers's 65th birthday, and end in a terrifying nailbiting chase to the death.
Viewers are in for a couple of surprises (as well as special guest appearances along the way) and will have to rethink their own value systems, and what they desperately try to keep hidden from others, before the end is near.
Hartland is produced by Bottom Line Entertainment, written by Deon Opperman and directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven.