The Pilot

16mm b/w film
12 minutes
no audio

The Pilot closely references 1920’s film techniques and the dramatic rescue scenes synonymous with Swiss Alpine Sports Films directed by auteur Arnold Fanck.

BB’s characteristic female heroine is a 1920’s pilot lying unconscious in the snow. With a broken leg she silently waits for her rescuer or death. Before her dramatic rescue the camera slowly scrutinizes her body for clues of her identity. The scant details of her life are discovered with precise anthropological detail: her swiss alpine family emblem, the tasseln around her waist, and the sporting “Only you can©” inscribed crampons. Vignetting her face with a soft focus reveals a timeless beauty, and yet she remains elusive.

The rescue scene subverts the modernist gaze. It is documented as a treacherous, laborious and concrete action. The pilot’s body is pulled up the side of a thirteen- story art deco building in Cape Town – a former cinema. Soon she disappears over the top, and is gone, leaving behind an invisible trace of the imagined past she briefly occupied.


scenario, direction and production design by Bridget Baker
director of photography Michael Cleary

The Pilot Philana van Schalkwyk

based on characters Maria Maioni (Leni Riefenstahl) and Dr. Johannes Krafft (Gustav Diessl) in Die Weisse Hölle von Pitz Palu (1929); and The Blue Collar Girl
based on the rescue scene from Arnold Fanck and Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Die Weisse Hölle von Pitz Palu (1929)

associate producer Wendy Faull (The Big Picture Film Company)

props manufactured by Douglas Gimberg, Zasu, Francois de Flamingh, Ronel Wagener, Shahida Dramat,
Chloe Essery, Frauke Stegmann and Yossi Printers
props supplied by Braam Theron and Ida Uys, Costume Hire, Second Time Around and Never on a Sunday
storyboard Lizza Littlewort
make-up and hair design Monique Bezuidenhout
stunt co-ordination Pyranha Stunts

film and props research assistance
Georges Pfreunder at ECAV (Sierre, Switzerland)
Anke Hahn at Filmmuseum (Berlin, Germany)
Andrea Liechti at Bern Alpine Museum (Bern, Switzerland)

camera SR3 16mm
film stock Kodak 100T

post production supervised by Jeremy Collins at juju (Cape Town)
telecine at Waterfront Post (Cape Town)
off-line edit Jeremy Collins at juju
on-line edit Ronet van der Walt at HD Hub (Cape Town)
film transfer Swiss Effects (Zurich)

locations in South Africa
Tiffendel Ski Resort, McDhui, Eastern Cape
The Colosseum, Cape Town

produced by Official BB Projects thanks to the support of Palazzo del Papesse, Siena, Italy

© images Bridget Baker