Henk Pretorius

Director and Writer

Henk Pretorius is a Britain-based, multi-award-winning and commercially celebrated South African-born filmmaker.

Nominated by the Mail & Guardian as one of the Top 200 Young South Africans (2013), Henk Pretorius won the Golden Space Needle Award (2013) at the Seattle International Film Festival.

The Unfamiliar (2020) is Henk Pretorius’ first British feature film. Henk has refined his skill as a filmmaker on some of South Africa’s most loved comedies and dramatic features.

Henk Lambert Pretorius was born in 1981 in Cape Town, South Africa to Naomi Pretorius, a social worker and entrepreneur, and Johannes Lodewikus Pretorius, a university lecturer in Business Administration. Henk spent his younger years first in Kempton Park and later Centurion, South Africa where he focused on academics, sports and the dramatic arts. He completed his BA Drama Degree (2003) with distinction at the acclaimed AFDA film school in Johannesburg, South Africa. Henk was nominated as the best student of the year and twice honoured as the alumnus of the year.

Henk spent his early career in front of the camera and acted in South African soap opera Egoli (2005) and DSTV’s acclaimed television series Kruispad (2008). He served as an executive assistant to the Head Writer of the soap opera Villa Rosa (2006) and an episode writer for SABC Network shows City Ses’ la and Askies (2008).

Henk became known in South Africa as the writer, director and executive producer of his debut film: Bakgat! (2008). The success of the film created a nationwide wave in South African and gave birth to the first-ever Afrikaans trilogy. Henk wrote and directed Bakgat 2 and co-wrote Bakgat 3 with Hanneke Schutte.

Henk Pretorius was part of the team of executive producers that produced: Hoofmeisie (2011) and Wolwedans in die Skemer (2012).

In 2013, Henk teamed up with President Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, and producer Lance Samuels (Strike Back, The Book of Negroes, Madiba) to direct Fanie Fourie’s Lobola. Henk wrote the screenplay with Janine Eser. The film won the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival for Best Film, Best Comedy at the Sedona International Film Festival and received the Audience Award at the Jozi International Film Festival. Fanie Fourie’s Lobola received five nominations for the SAFTA Awards (2014). These nominations included Best Director and Best Film Writing Team. South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister, Paul Mashatile, publicly congratulated the creators of Fanie Fourie’s Lobola. The film was sold to the USA, Canada, European territories and had a wide theatrical release in South Africa. Henk was nominated by the Mail & Guardian as one of the Top 200 Young South Africans in 2013.

In 2012, Henk co-founded the Britain-based company Dark Matter Studios with Llewelynn Greeff.

In 2014, Henk directed Leading Lady. Henk wrote the script with Tina Kruger, and the film starred Katie McGrath (Jurassic World, Supergirl) and Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal, The Shawshank Redemption). Leading Lady was the second highest-grossing South African film in 2014, officially selected for The Seattle and Sedona International Film Festivals and sold to fourteen countries. Henk and Llewelynn Greeff produced Leading Lady.

In 2016, Henk produced Blood and Glory (Modder en Bloed) with Llewelynn Greeff and writer/director Sean Else and executive producer Rudy Halgryn. The film starred Stian Bam, Charlotte Salt and Grant Swanby. Blood and Glory won the best drama at the 2017 Sedona International Film Festival. The film was officially selected to compete at the Camerimage Festival due to the cinematography by Adam Joshua Bentel. The film had a wide release in South Africa and was picked up by Bulldog Distribution for a limited release in the UK.

Henk directed The Unfamiliar (2020) and wrote the script with writer Jennifer Nicole Stang. Llewelynn Greeff and Barend Kruger produced the film, starring Jemima West (The Mortal Instruments, Indian Summers) and Christopher Dane (Ren, Born of Hope). Vertical Entertainment acquired The Unfamiliar for a North American cinema release, and the film will premiere at The Cannes Film Festival’s virtual market.

Henk has since spent time developing Novus, a British-South African co-production set in London, UK. The film’s principal photography will commence when the current global travel restrictions lift. Henk wrote and will direct Novus. Llewelynn Greeff, Barend Kruger and Irfaan Fredericks will produce the film. Gareth Jones and multi-award-winning producer Cassian Elwes are attached to executive produce Novus.

Henk and Llewelynn, from Dark Matter Studios, have been making films together since 2012 and are both inspired by the business partnership between Ron Howard and Brian Grazer at Imagine Entertainment.

Made with the support of the British Film Institute.