The Durban International Film Festival has announced the winners of its audience awards for 2014. The winning feature is The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared from Swedish director Felix Herngren. Based on the internationally best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, this energetically oddball black comedy begins with irrepressible pensioner and dynamite expert Allan Karlsson’s escape from a retirement home. His subsequent cross-county shenanigans are interspersed with flashbacks to a past studded with extraordinary events and famous historical figures. Highly entertaining, its pastiche of history refracted through the life of an eccentric is reminiscent of a darker take on Forrest Gump. The film received nearly unanimous votes of excellent from the DIFF audience.
The DIFF 2014 audience award for best documentary goes to 1994: The Bloody Miracle, directed by Meg Rickards and Bert Haisma. As South Africa celebrates the 20th anniversary of the advent of democracy, the film chronicles the countless deaths and widespread mayhem which nearly brought South Africa to its knees in the early ‘90s and speaks to the hard men who did their best to thwart the transition to democracy and who have now made an uneasy peace with the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
More than 700 industry guests from around the world attended DIFF and its sister event the Durban FilmMart (DFM). With 202 films spread over 9 venues, and more than 350 screenings, the festival was once more a great success. With just over 30 300 seats occupied, including workshop and attendance at DFM, attendance at the festival increased slightly, with the number of sold-out venues increasing dramatically.
More than 2800 people attended the beach screenings, including the annual Wavescape opening event as well the additional four outdoor screenings funded by the British Council and the National Film and Video Foundation. In terms of the festival’s visual literacy programme, the festival once again presented a programme of youth-oriented films for more than 4000 students from schools in the region, who were provided with transportation to Suncoast CineCentre’s Supernova theatre.
DIFF together with the Durban Film Mart accommodated more than 300 guests and 1500 room nights at the newly renovated Tsogo Sun Elangeni and Maharani Complex, with hundreds of additional festival visitors paying their own way at the many hotels along the Durban beachfront. 72 temporary jobs were created, resulting in more than 5 000 job hours, while DFM hosted more than 900 meetings between local filmmakers and producers, financiers and distributors from around the world.
While DIFF and DFM provide a world class film event with a strong African focus, it is also an integral part of economic development within the local and national film industry and is an increasing driver of tourism. An Economic Impact Assessment study on the festival and the market will be released later this year.