By sharlene Versfeld
Published July 6, 2012
South African film in particular will be in the spotlight with 16 feature films (more than any previous year), as well as 19 documentaries, 27 short films, and 4 films in the Wavescape section; that is a total of 66 South African films most of which will see their world premieres on Durban screens.
Opening the festival this year is the arresting ELELWANI by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, starring Florence Masebe in a rich and atmospheric work that addresses the convergence of modernity and traditional culture. The closing film by director Wayne Thornley and the Triggerfish team is the delightful story of animal kingdom UBUNTU in the pioneering 3D animation Adventures in Zambezia.
The South African programme will comprise: the harrowing and minimalist ACCESSION (directed by Michael Rix); the street dance extravaganza, THE AFRICAN CYPHER (directed by Bryan Little), while a woman tries to save a special herd in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S ELEPHANTS (directed by Richard Slater Jones), and puppeteering pioneers are the subject of BIGGER THAN LIFE (directed by Delphine de Blic). BLITZ PATROLLIE (directed by Andrew Wessels, written by comedian Kagiso Lediga and starring David Kau and Joey Rasdien,) is an hysterical cop comedy, while CASSETTE: WHO DO YOU TRUST? (directed by John Barker) narrates the pursuit of musical fame. The identity-switch farce, COPPOSITES (directed by Oliver Rodger and starring Rob van Vuuren and Siv Ngesi) will keep you laughing, while the soulful and melodious CRY OF LOVE (directed by Faith Isiakpere,) starres Leleti Khumalo, Victor Masondo and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. DRAGONS FEAST 3D (directed by Damon and Craig Foster) daringly investigates the aquatic world of crocodiles. FYNBOS (directed by Harry Patramanis) is a riveting psychological thriller, while fact and fiction blend into a nightmarish reality in GANGSTER PROJECT (directed by Teboho Edkins). GOG HELEN (directed by Adze Ugah and with a cast including Lillian Dube, Kagiso Rakosa, Sophie Ndaba, Patrick Shai, Winnie Modise and more), is a rollicking adventure of a grandmother and granddaughter. The inspiring HEALERS (directed by Thomas Barry) recognises the tenacity of people committed to the upliftment of their community. INSIDE STORY (directed by Rolie Nikiwe) is an underdog story with an important message. LEGENDS OF THE CASBAH: INDIAN REBELS OF THE 1950S (directed by Riason Naidoo and Damon Heatlie) illustrates a Durban from a bygone era.
MAN ON GROUND (directed by Akin Omotoso and starring Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Fana Mokoena) probes the effects of xenophobia, and ME, YOU, MANKOSI (directed by Linda Hughes)looks at survival in rural South Africa. ONE LAST LOOK (directed by Philip Roberts) will delight fans of horror films. ROADMAP TO APARTHEID (directed by Eron Davidson and Ana Nogueira) compares Apartheid South Africa to Israel-Palestine now, while ROCKSTARDOM (directed by Michael Cross) profiles the life of musician Brendon Shields. SLEEPERS WAKE (directed byBarry Berk) is a dark tale of grief and seduction. SNARE (directed by Diony Kempen) grippingly narrativises the rhino-poaching epidemic. TASTE OF RAIN (directed by Richard Pakleppa) watches the testing of relationships in the Namibian desert, and UHLANGA THE MARK (directed by Ndaba ka Ngwane) takes a personal look at a boy’s life in the shadow of witchcraft rumours. UMBILICAL CORDS (directed by Sarah Ping Nie Jones) tries to understand mother-daughter relationships and cultural difference, and ZAMA ZAMA (directed by Vickus Strijdom, starring Lindani Nkosi and Presley Chweneyagae) is a thrilling story of brotherhood and illegal mining.
The programme is rich with inspiring work from the wider continent, including many films that have excelled internationally and will see their South African debuts at DIFF, such as the Rwandan GREY MATTER (directed by Daddy Yousouf Ruhorahoza), which won two big awards at Tribeca. Senegalese director Moussa Tours THE PIROGUE comes to us straight from the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes Film Festival and the ghostly Senegalese TEY was nominated for the Golden Bear in Berlin International Film Festival. Also in the programme is LEILA KILANIS ON THE EDGE from Morrocco, and the Eyptian ASMAA (directed by Amr Salama), and NAIROBI HALF LIFE (directed by Tosh Gitonga) from Kenya which will have its world premiere at DIFF.
This year’s programme showcases the myriad perspectives that colour the cultural landscape of contemporary Europe and and diverse ways in which these stories are being told on film.
With support from organisations and partnerships such as EUNIC, World Documentary Exchange and Festival Scope, audiences can expect a feast of top class European films including Finnish Aki Kaurismki’s LE HAVRE, winner of the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes 2011; Michael Glawogger’s WHORE’S GLORY from Austria, Mads Brgger’s THE AMBASSADOR from Denmark; the Portuguese TABU (winner of the FIPRESCI prize and Golden Bear Nominee in Berlin); the new film from German director of Tuvalu, Veit Helmer, BAIKONUR; and STELLA DAYS, the Irish film starring Martin Sheen.
A special French Focus at DIFF 2012 brings a rich offering from the country widely regarded as “the birthplace of cinema”, including films such as THE LADY, a powerful biopic on Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi (directed by Luc Besson), ON AIR (directed by Pierre Pinaud), THE REST OF THE WORLD (directed by Damien Odoul), 38 WITNESSES (directed by Lucas Belvaux), CAPTIVE (directed by Brillante Mendoza), OUTSIDE SATAN (directed by Bruno Dumont), 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (directed by Julie Delpy), THE KID WITH A BIKE (directed by Dardenne Brothers), winner of the Cannes Grand Jury Prize 2011 amongst many others.
DIFF is also proud to present this year’s winner of the Cannes Palme dOr, Michael Haneke’s AMOUR (Love).
There are also some important industry initiatives with French partners, intended to stimulate the growth of cinema in Africa, boosted by the French South Africa Season 2012 and 2013, a two year exchange between the respective countries.
The annual Canal France International (CFI) conference will host a dozen African Broadcasters at DIFF. They will also offer a pre-sale prize to a promising African Project in Durban FilmMart.
Arte France will present a 6,000-Euro award to a DFM project. Coordinated by Festival 3 Continents of Nantes, the Produire au Sud (PAS) Script Studio is a specialist Script Development Workshop for six African filmmakers with feature films in development.
The oversight body for film in France, Centre National du Cinma et de l’Image Anime (CNC), and its South African counterpart, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), will engage in meetings with producers to explore coproduction opportunities between the two countries. Details will also be announced about the new World Cinema Support Film Fund to which African filmmakers may apply.
Brilliant filmic gems from across the globe, including winners of many major awards, are also in the programme.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (directed by Benh Zeitlin) from the United States was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Fipresci Award at Cannes in 2012; RUSSIAN FAUST (directed by Aleksandr Sokurov) won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2011; the Iranian GOODBYE (directed by Mohammad Rasoulof) won Best Director in Cannes Un Certain Regard section in 2011; and the British TYRANNOSAUR (directed by Paddy Considine) won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2011.
The documentary section offers PLANET OF SNAIL (directed by Seung-jun Yi) which won Best Feature Documentary at IDFA, the Iranian THIS IS NOT A FILM (directed by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), and two films by Morgan Spurlock (of SUPER SIZE ME fame), POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, and COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE.
Michael Winterbottom’s TRISHA is set in India and starres Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto. THE LONELIEST PLANET starres Hani Furstenberg and Gael Garcia Bernal and the Australian THE HUNTER, starring Willem Dafoe, has won multiple awards. A SIMPLE LIFE from Hong King has won numerous awards internationally and was nominated for the Venice Golden Lion. The Turkish ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA won the Grand Jury prize in Cannes in 2011.
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Five new films highlight the remarkable substance of modern Japanese cinema: CUT (directed by Amir Naderi), Takashi Miike’s new HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI which will be screened in 3D, I WISH (directed by Hirokazu Koreeda), OUR HOMELAND (directed by Yong-hi Yang) and SCABBARD SAMURAI (directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto).