This year’s edition of the Durban International Film Festival (16-26 June) once more features a very strong selection of African titles.
With just under half of all the films originating from Africa and South Africa, and much of the rest of the programme dealing with diasporic issues and identity politics, this year’s DIFF is a true festival of African film located within a global context.
Of the 101 feature-length films to be shown at the festival, 50 are African films, including 17 fiction films and 9 documentaries, while there are 24 South African films, including 10 fiction films and 14 documentaries. Additionally, the festival’s programme will include more than 90 short films, the majority of which are African and South African.
Now in its 37th year, DIFF is the continent’s leading showcase of African film, while also providing a strong programme of world cinema for local audiences, featuring the kind of titles that would otherwise not get a showing on commercial screens in South Africa. Key titles from the continent’s ever-expanding film industry include As I Open My Eyes, a powerful personal tale told on the eve of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Naked Reality, the latest film from provocative filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Nakom, a haunting film about the conflict between tradition, modernity and love, Ghostland, about the loss of language and identity of indigenous Nambian people, and I Shot Bi Kidude, the long awaited feature film about African musical legend Bi Kidude.
Acting Festival Director Peter Machen spoke enthusiastically about this year’s programme. “This is my 27th year of attending the festival and it’s been incredible to watch the continual expansion of African cinema, as the industry slowly rebirths in the wake of colonialism. In those first years that I attended, there was virtually no African content, and it’s wonderful that an industry which exists against a background of enormous challenges is growing with such vigour. African cinema continues to grow more and more complex, offering a wealth of cinematic language that puts much of mainstream cinema to shame.”
As well as the strong African Focus, other key areas include a focus on issues around indigenous rights and colonialism, a small programme of films that deal with HIV (given the fact that the World Aids Conference will be taking place in Durban two weeks after the festival ends), and a rich programme of films about dance and music. There is a country focus on Dutch cinema, in recognition of the Dutch-South African Co-production Treaty, as well as a focus on Portuguese-language African film in partnership with Tri Continental Film Festival.
“A festival such as the DIFF takes many years to build and grow, and involves the hard work of countless people,” said Machen. “We are pleased that one of the world’s leading showcases of African and global film will have a number of new venues this year, including the Playhouse, NuMetro Pavilion and various community centres around Durban, all of which will bring the festival to a greater and more diverse number of people,” says Machen.
The full programme will be announced in the coming weeks. “Durbanites can look forward to another exciting and eclectic selection of films,” said Machen.
The festival will take place at the Playhouse, Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Ster Kinekor Nouveau, Nu Metro Pavilion, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the KZNSA Gallery, Rivertown Beerhall and the Elangeni-Maharani Hotel, with festival hubs at the Elangeni-Maharani and the Playhouse. There will also be screenings of selected titles in Clermont, KwaMashu, Inanda, Groutville, and others areas.
The 37th 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, Durban Film Office, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, eThekwini Municipality, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.
For more information go to www.durbanfilmfest.co.za.