By Durban International Film Festival
Published July 1, 2014
The ever-expanding African film industry shall once more be represented at the 35th annual Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) scheduled for July 17-27, 2014. South African film–40 full-length and 38 shorts–retains the key focus. This is by far the largest number of South African films in the history of DIFF.
The opening night film on July 17 shall be HARD TO GET, an electrifying feature debut from South African filmmaker Zee Ntuli who has already received critical acclaim for his short films. The story of the mercurial relationship between a handsome young womaniser and a beautiful, reckless petty criminal, HARD TO GET is fuelled by a bewitching visual poetry.
Running 95 minutes and made in English and Zulu with English sub-titles, HARD TO GET tells of TK (Pallance Dladla), a handsome young womaniser with trust issues who is thrust into Johannesburg’s underworld when he falls for Skiets (Thishiwe Ziqubu), a beautiful, reckless young woman who earns her living as a petty criminal. But If TK is to have any chance with her, he will have to survive a gauntlet of wilfully dangerous undertakings. Produced by Junaid Ahmed and Helena Spring, HARD TO GET is an action-fuelled love story overflowing with visual poetry and promises great things to come from Ntuli.
Other high-profile South African films being showcased include BETWEEN FRIENDS which recounts a reunion between old university friends; HEAR ME MOVE dance movie and LOVE THE ONE YOU LOVE which explores a constellation of relationships among young South Africans.
This year’s programme also features an expanded South African documentary programme in response to the large number of high quality doccies currently being produced in the country. DIFF 2014 includes a rich slate of films which explore and interrogate 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa, including Khalo Matabane’s NELSON MANDELA: MYTH AND ME and Rehad Desai’s MINERS SHOT DOWN.
The rich programme of films from elsewhere on the continent includes a number of artistically and politically brave directorial voices that are unafraid to experiment with form or content. The bewitching and highly experimental BLOODY BEANS recounts the Algerian revolution using a band of children as its medium of expression, while the utterly charming and super-low-budget BETI AND AMARE is an Ethiopian vampire film with a difference.
DIFF also acknowledges the political reality of contemporary Africa with films such as TIMBUKTU from Malian Abderrahmane Sissako whichs recounts Timbuktu’s brief occupation by militant Islamic rebels. The mockumentary hybrid, THEY ARE THE DOGS, is set in Morocco in the aftermath of the Arab Spring while the engagingly authentic, semi-autographical film, DIE WELT, is set in Tunisia shortly after the recent Jasmine Revolution. IMBABAZI: THE PARDON explores the possibilities of reconciliation in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, and DIFRET examines the potentially destructive role of patriarchal traditions in contemporary Ethiopia.
Set in Tanzania, the disturbing but visually powerful WHITE SHADOW tells the story of a young albino boy named Alias who is targeted for body parts VEVE from Germany’s One Fine Day Films, documents the double-crossing lives of those trading in khat or ‘veve’, a mildly narcotic local crop. From Moroccan director Abdellah Taia comes SALVATION ARMY, an unflinchingly poetic study of a young Arab man grappling with notions of family and sexuality. Then there is the highly anticipated film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, set against the difficulties of post-independence Nigeria.
COZ OV MONI 2: FOKN REVENGE, billed as ‘the world’s second first pidgin musical’, is a Ghanaian hip-hop opera from rap duo the FOKN Bois, while B FOR BOY tells the story of how a Nigerian woman’s life is corrupted by the forces of patriarchy and tradition.
Besides more than 200 theatrical screenings, seminars, workshops as well as the Wavescape Film Festival and Wild Talk Africa Film Festival, 35th DIFF shall also run various industry initiatives, including the 7th Talents Durban (in cooperation with Berlinale Talents) and the 5th Durban FilmMart co-production market (in partnership with the Durban Film Office).