Music, in the form of film scores, is one of the crucial background elements that contribute to the making of great cinema, but the Durban International Film Festival presents a number of films where music itself takes centre stage. The strong music strand in this year’s festival includes Emma Franz’s compelling Intangible Asset No. 82 about a jazz drummer and his search for an elusive South Korean grandmaster musician. SHARLENE VERSFELD writes.
Leading Australian musician Simon Barker embarks upon a long journey, personal as well as geographical, after being captivated by an album of Korean percussion instruments. Numerous inquiries finally yield a name of the shamanic object of his quest: Kim Seok-chul, officially recognised as “the 82nd most valuable intangible cultural asset of the Republic of Korea”.
NORA, a brilliant performance film of the life of dancer Nora Chipaumire, features music by Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo.
THE SILVER FEZ, a World Premiere at DIFF, is an intense look at the rivalry of the Cape Malay music scene, directed by Lloyd Ross, himself a well-known figure on the music scene for his legendary Shifty Records which distributed some of South Africa’s most cutting-edge, and contentious, music in the 1980s. In the film, we meet Kaatji Davids, a house painter with barely two cents to rub together. But he does have an old banjo, loyal friends and the audacity to imagine that he might topple Hadji Bucks, the undisputed champion of Cape Malay music. The prize is the Silver Fez, Holy Grail of Cape Town’s Islamic sub-culture.
Two Senegalese legends, Yande Codou and Youssou N’dour, can be seen in YANDE CODOU, THE GRIOT F SENGHOR and YOUSSOU N’DOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE, respectively.
Eighty-year-old YandÃ© Codou SÃ¨ne is one of the last remaining singers of polyphonic SÃ©rÃ¨re poetry and in YANDE CODOU, THE GRIOT F SENGHOR we are offered an intimate look at a true diva who has travelled through Senegalese history at the side of its mythical president-poet LÃ©opold SÃ©dar Senghor.
YOUSSOU N’DOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE chronicles N’Dour’s tribulations and eventual triumph when his religious album “Egypt, that was at first branded blasphemous in Senegal” wins a Grammy award and full acceptance.
Other music docs include Roger Lucey’s ARIA DEL AFRICA, an inspiring look at how opera is being taken up by black South African youth.
On Friday, July 24, 2009 at Royal Hotel, a panel discussion entitled Film and Music : The Marriage That Works, will at noon unpack the relationship and the processes. Participants will include Emma Franz, Lloyd Ross, accomplished musician Roger Lucey and Revel Fox whose Long Street, which has its world premiere at DIFF, features Busi Mhlongo.
Principal screening venues of the festival are the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; Nu Metro Cinecentre – Suncoast; Ster Kinekor Junction – Musgrave; Cinema Nouveau – Gateway; Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; and The Royal Hotel, with further screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent.