The 35th Durban International Film Festival announces Hard to Get for its opening night film

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The Durban International Film Festival (July 17 – 27) is extremely happy to announce that the opening film at DIFF 2014 will be Hard To Get from first-time feature director Zee Ntuli and produced by Junaid Ahmed and Helena Spring.

The film tells the story of TK, a handsome young womanizer from a small community who falls for a sexy, reckless young thief named Skiets. Thrust into Joburg’s criminal underworld TK realises that his best bet is to trust her and hang on for dear life.

The action romance explores the universal theme of love in the very specific context of contemporary South Africa. At its heart, it is simply a story of two young South Africans embarking on the universal adventure of falling in love, symbolically set against the dangerous, unpredictable, cruel and ruthless backdrop of Joburg’s criminal underworld. Says Zee Ntuli, “The criminal gauntlet parallels the emotional journey of TK and Skiets, providing a metaphor for how scary falling in love can be. Ultimately it is a hopeful story, one which carries the message that love is worth fighting for.”

Talking about the film, Festival Manager, Peter Machen, said, “I am very excited about Hard To Get. It’s a beautifully made film that works on every level and will satisfy commercial and art-house audiences alike. I also think that it’s going to make instant stars of its two leads Thishiwe Ziqubu and Pallance Dladla, who are both electrifying, as well as director Zee Ntuli, who is virtually guaranteed a bright future on the global filmmaking stage on the basis of this first feature.”

Machen continued, “With the production team of Helena Spring and Junaid Ahmed behind the film, I have a strong suspicion that this is going to be the one that cracks open local audience’s desire to watch strong local film products. I have no doubt that audiences will walk out of the theatre electrified, and will be filled with excitement about the rest of the festival. All of this makes Hard To Get the perfect opening film for DIFF 2014. Co-producer Helena Spring said, “Junaid and I are thrilled to be launching major new talent with Hard to Get. We are incredibly proud of the work that director Zee Ntuli, his team and cast, have delivered. There is already a great deal of buzz around the film and we have no doubt that a bright future awaits them.”

Junaid Ahmed mentioned that Hard To Get is the first of a slate of films that he and Spring are producing which showcase the talent of previously marginalised black filmmakers in South Africa. Ahmed went on to praise the assured and distinctive directorial debut of Ntuli, as well as that of co-writer TT Sibisi. “Hard To Get heralds the arrival of exciting new voices in South African cinema”.

Although, Hard To Get is Ntuli’s first feature, he has already made his mark on the local film scene. He has written for the award-winning hit show Intersexions and has directed a humorous 40sec advert entitled Grandfather for Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission initiative. He has also directed music videos for the bands Crash Car Burn and Wrestlerish, as well having worked on Soul City and the crime drama Mshika-shika. Ntuli studied at AFDA, the School Of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, winning the award for Best Film during all four years of studies. His 24 minute short film, Bomlambo (Those Of The Water), won the award for best fantasy film at the New York International Film Festival. Ntuli was nominated for best short film at the 2012 SAFTAs and has already had his short films screened at festivals in South Africa and around the world. His 12 minute short In Return (Emasisweni) was nominated as the South African candidate for the Student Oscars in 2010.

The Durban International Film Festival takes place from 17 – 27 July 2014. The festival includes more than 200 theatrical screenings and a full seminar and workshop programme, as well as the Wavescape Film Festival, the Wild Talk Africa Film Festival, and various industry initiatives, including the 7th Talent Campus Durban (in cooperation with the Berlin Talent Campus) and  the 5th Durban FilmMart co-production market (in partnership with the Durban Film Office).  For more information go to www.durbanfilmfestival.co.za

The 35th Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development & Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and arange of other valued partners.

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