“The seed for a great miracle lies not in difficulty, but impossibility.” This line from the film, Faith Like Potatoes, underpins the inspiring true story of Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage who finds himself struggling to keep his head above water on a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Concerned by the unrest in his native land of Zambia, Buchan makes the decision to move his wife and young family to a farm in Greytown, South Africa, only to find that things are as difficult for them in their new home as they were before.
The Buchans start afresh on a patch of land with an old caravan to live in, and are beset by the challenges of low finances, having to build a home, the responsibility of a new baby and three other children, not speaking the local language and the potential of violence from the locals. Buchan begins to buckle under the strain, and finds himself spending less time at home, and more time in the company of a whiskey bottle at the local pub.
Things begin to spin out of control when help comes in the unlikely form of Simeon Bhengu, a local Zulu, who despite Buchan’s anger, aggression and verbal abuse, begins to help him get his feet on the ground. The unlikely partnership develops into a friendship between the two men that spans the years and warms the heart. However, even this is not enough to pull Buchan out of his downward spiral.
Reluctantly, after yet another angry confrontation with his wife, Buchan agrees to accompany her to the local Methodist Missionary breakfast and instead of hating it as he expects, he finds instead a wise and caring minister, and faith in God that turns his life upside down.
From here the story follows the twists and turns of Buchan’s next few years. From the miraculous to the tragic, his experiences are incredible, unique, heartrending and inspiring, and guaranteed not to leave a dry eye.
This film, based on the autobiographical book by Angus Buchan, is a marvellous story that truly does challenge and inspire the viewer, leaving one with a residue of hope for a long time after the viewing.
The cinematography is beautiful, with large scenes of stunning Kwa-Zulu Natal complete with the inevitable call of doves. The visual splendour is accompanied by a haunting musical score, and as you watch the scenes unfold, you feel transported into the story, almost smelling the clean crisp air and acrid woodsmoke.
Adapted for the big screen by award winning actor and director, Reghardt van den Berg, the film has a strong cast including the talents of Frank Rautenbach as Buchan, Hamilton Dhlamini as Bhengu and Jeanne Wilhelm as Buchan’s wife, Jill, and boasts a number of awards including a Golden Horn and the Golden Ten Award for feature fiction. Dubbed as “the little film that can” Faith Like Potatoes has become an international success, gaining distribution rights globally, including in Australia, the UK and Italy.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing is that after the film is over, the work of Angus and Jill Buchan continues. They are still actively involved in the community, living on their farm “Shalom”, a working model for an African farm, running their Shalom Children’s Home for orphans, and overseeing a school for 200 local children. Their work has greatly benefited from the film, with part of the proceeds going towards the Children’s Home. In addition the local community has benefited from approximately two million Rand that was invested into getting the town ready for the filming.
This poignant story is a must see for the whole family. It weaves together tension, tragedy and triumph with moments of marvellous humour. Like his potatoes, Buchan’s faith grows unseen until the harvest; he truly lives out his message, “when nothing is left, believe.”