By Sharlene Versfeld with Ogova Ondego
Published August 1, 2012
Amour (Love) by Michael Haneke has won the Best Feature Film Award that carries a cash prize of ZAR50,000 at the 33rd edition of the annual Durban International Film Festival. The International Jury described Amour as ‘unmissable’ and director Haneke as a ‘contemporary master with an astute understanding of his cinematic world’.
The Best First Feature Film prize of ZAR20, 000 was awarded to Australian director Julia Leigh for Sleeping Beauty by the Jury that comprised Zimbabwean filmmaker and novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga, South African film director Oliver Hermanus, producer and television presenter Kgomotso Matsunyane, and Canadian producer and director Peter Wintonick.
The Best South African Feature Film (ZAR30,000) was awarded to Adventures in Zambezia by Wayne Thornley. Of the large number of South African films screened this year, the jury’s unanimous voice lauded this film as one with “strong writing and direction, and beautiful animation infused with the spirit of the continent” and as one that ‘tells an African story from an African perspective while having clear global appeal”.
The Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, with a prize of €2,500, went to Malika Zouhali-Worral and Katherine Fairfax Wright’s film Call Me Kuchu which focuses on attacks on gay people in Uganda.
An attendance of 31,012 was recorded at the festival, 1,500 up on 2011 figures.
Peter Rorvik, the DIFF Festival Director said, “Feedback has been very positive, from filmmakers and public alike. The selection of films has drawn good responses, and we were particularly pleased with the increased line-up of South African films this year. The French Focus went well, while the Wavescape component and the schools screenings were as popular as ever. Moving the festival hub and industry programmes to the beachfront was well-received and the success of the Durban FilmMart and Talent Campus is a good indicator of industry development both locally and across the continent. Congratulations to the award-winners, thank you to the juries and also the audience for voting in the audience awards. Special thanks to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the National Film and Video Foundation and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism and other funders and partners.”
The full list of awardees:
Best Film: Amour(Love), France,/Austria,/Germany, directed by Michael Haneke.
“Michael Haneke is undoubtedly a contemporary master with an astute understanding of his cinematic world. Amour is a simple, universal, beautiful and emotional film, tackling a subject most other filmmakers avoid: old age and death. His craftsmanship is unmatched. His collaboration with his two key performers, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, is an exercise in artistic brilliance. This is an unmissable film; a gift.”
Best South African Feature Film: Adventures in Zambezia, South Africa, directed by Wayne Thornley.
“We were particularly impressed with the large number of South African films that were screened this year. Of the several strong contenders, we were unanimous in choosing Adventures in Zambezia as the best South African film. With strong writing and direction, and beautiful animation infused with the spirit of the continent, it tells an African story from an African perspective while having clear global appeal. In the process, it challenges the dominant animation studios on their own turf, and shows that the South African film industry can produce universally accessible world class cinema without sacrificing its own identity.”
Best First Feature Film: Sleeping Beauty, Australia, directed by Julia Leigh
“Sleeping Beauty is a tour de force. Julia Leigh, in her first directorial efforts, has announced herself as a talent of the future. This ground-breaking, provocative, and arresting film explores society’s obsession with beauty. This was a film that stayed with the jury’s collective mind, from the very beginning. Leigh unifies all the creative elements in perfect harmony, which makes for an excellent, unforgettable cinematic experience.”
Best Director: Benh Zeitlin for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, USA.
“A true director demonstrates the perfect marriage of content and creativity. This is an unforgettable cinematic feast of energy, emotion and magic realism. The direction is assured, appropriate and intelligent. Styled in an organic, visceral mix of images and dreams, Zeitlin’s direction is as impressive as it is resonant.”
Best Actress: Deanie Ip in Tao Jie (A Simple Life), Hong Kong SAR China.
“For her diverse and emotive interpretation of Ah Tao, a 70-year-old Hong Kong maid who suffers a stroke and moves into a nursing home, Deanie Ip delivers an outstanding, endearing, evocative and under-stated performance. Her sensitive portrayal is truly moving and authentic.”
Best Actor: Joseph Wairimu in Nairobi Half Life, Kenya/Germany.
“From the very opening moments of Nairobi Half Life, actor Joseph Wairimu charms us with his endearing characterization of Mwas. His role as a young actor who tries to resist becoming a reluctant hustler, transcends both comedy and drama. His performance embodies the hunger of Kenyan youth hoping to carve out better lives for themselves.”
Best Cinematography: Gökhan Tiryaki for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia), Bosnia and Herzegovina/Turkey.
“From the opening shot until the very last frame, Gökhan Tiryaki’s controlled and deliberate cinematography uses attention to details, lighting and framing to enhance this very meditative film about life and death. His unobtrusive camerawork and naturalist lighting constructions make this film’s journey increasingly haunting.”
Best Screenplay: Ercan Kesal, Ercan Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia), Bosnia and Herzegovina/Turkey.
“a truly original, unpredictable, and philosophical exploration. The quiet release of the narrative demonstrates an assured sense of control and vision. A film that debates fundamental human principles, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is a rare piece of cinematic storytelling.”
Special Jury Mention Feature Film: Be Omid E Didar (Goodbye), Iran, directed by Mohammad Rasoulof.
“Every filmmaking country has a responsibly to address the disturbing and continuing issue of censorship and control when it comes to the expression of life through cinema. Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iranian film Goodbye (Be Omid E Didar) is a brave work that reminds us that there are still too many countries that mute the voices and visions of artists. We can never take freedom of expression for granted no matter where we live. Mohammad Rasoulof has made a haunting film to show us the length that governments can go to extinguish the voices of its people.”
Best Documentary: 5 Broken Cameras, Palestinian Territories/France/Israel/The Netherlands, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi.
“for its emotional impact and power in making the political personal, and for taking us so intimately into a community’s lives.”
Best South African Documentary: The African Cypher, South Africa, directed by Bryan Little.
“for conveying the energy and creativity of young people across South Africa today.”
Special Jury Mention Documentary: Calvet, Costa Rica/France/Nicaragua/United Kingdom/United States, directed by Dominic Allan.
“for being a reminder of the transformative power of art, both in terms of its subject matter and form.”
Best Short Film: La Migala (The Bird Spider), Spain, directed by Jaime Dezcallar.
“A subtly nuanced and poetic take on the fear and pain of loss that brings metaphor powerfully to life.”
Best South African Short Film: Doppelganger, South Africa, directed by Joshua Rous.
“This South African short exemplifies visceral camera work, high production value, and an innovative take on an established plot device.”
Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award: Call Me Kuchu, USA, directed by Malika Zouhali-Worral and Katherine Fairfax Wright.
“At a time when many gay people live under threat of attack, the Amnesty International jurors chose to give the 2012 Human Rights Award to the filmmakers of Call me Kuchu. This film has the potential to travel globally. In particular, it can be used in the African region to inform, encourage discussion, and support campaigns against hate crimes, and especially by defenders of the human rights and freedoms of LGBTI people. It is one of only a handful of current films in circulation on this vital human rights issue.”
DIFF Wavescape Film Festival Audience Award: The Art of Flight, USA, directed by Curt Morgan.
DIFF Documentary Audience Award: Searching for Sugarman, Sweden/United Kingdom, directed by Malik Bendjellou.
DIFF Feature Film Audience Award: The Lady, France/United Kingdom, directed by Luc Besson.
International Jury: Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwean filmmaker and novelist), Oliver Hermanus (South African film director), Kgomotso Matsunyane (South African director, producer and television presenter), and Peter Wintonick (Canadian film producer and director), awarded prizes to fiction feature films for the following categories: Best Feature Film Best First Feature Film; Best Direction; Best Cinematography; Best Screenplay; Best Actor; Best Actress.
Best South African Feature Film Award Jury: Junaid Ahmed (Director and Producer, Fineline Productions), Peter Machen (Journalist and Film Critic) and Madoda Ncayiyana (Director and Producer, Vuleka Productions).
Best Documentary and Best South African Documentary Jury: Lindiwe Dovey (director of the Film Afrika festival and academic at SOAS, University of London), Rosie Motene (television presenter, actress) and Robbie Thorpe (director and producer, Rififi Pictures).
Best Short Film and Best South African Short Film Jury: Tiny Mungwe (filmmaker, project coordinator, Durban FilmMart), Darren Murray (Producer, Collective Film and Video), Zandile Tembe (radio journalist, Ukhozi FM).
Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award Jury: Hylton Alcock (producer, Catch a Fire Production), Anita Khana (producer, Uhuru Productions), Nonhlanhla Mkhize (director, Durban Gay and Lesbian Centre), Liz Palmer and Coral Vinsen (Amnesty International Durban).