31 st Durban International Film Festival Unveils Programme

31st Durban International Film Festival poster

Daring, innovative and controversial films and filmmakers from around the world will take the spotlight at the 31st Durban International Film Festival which takes place from 22 July to 1 August. The festival programmers have scoured the globe for films that excite, thrill, raise awareness and provoke. These films will be presented in over 200 screenings at venues across Durban and in surrounding communities. Alongside the screenings of films, the festival offers an extensive workshop and seminar programme, as well as training and industry events. The festival is particularly pleased that, in a difficult funding climate, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) has come aboard as a principal funder.

The festival will open with the world premiere of Khalo Matabane’s State Of Violence, a powerful tale of revenge, history and memory. The closing film is Josh Appignanesi’s hilarious comedy, The Infidel, about a British Muslim who discovers that he was born Jewish. Between these two outstanding films, film-lovers will find daring films from new talents, superb new works by established masters, award-winners from around the world, and an unprecedented number of world premieres of new South African films. Including State Of Violence, DIFF will present 9 World Premieres of South African feature films, as well as the African Premiere of Life, Above All, the recent Cannes hit directed by Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula, Hijack Stories). South African feature films making their debut at the festival are Jahmil XT Qubekas’ stylish and original A Small Town Called Descent, starring Vusi Kunene and Hlubi Mboya, Jann Turner’s much-anticipated follow-up to White Wedding, Paradise Stop which features Rapulana Seiphemo and Kenneth Nkosi, the hilarious Attack Of The Indian Werewolf by Masood Boomgard, Jyoti Mistry’s striking experimental film The Bull On The Roof (Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit), Regardt van den Bergh’s charming The Incredible Adventures Of Hanna Hoekom (Die Ongelooflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom), the gangland action film Jozi Kings by Jonathan Boynton-Lee and Jamie Ramsay, the inspirational Machansa by Muntu Zwane, and the quirky romantic comedy Visa/Vie by Elan Gamaker.

Raoul Peck, the acclaimed director of Lumumba and Sometimes In April, will visit the festival to present his new masterpiece, Moloch Tropical, a searing satire on political dictatorship. Chadian Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s A Screaming Man, recent Jury Prize-winner at Cannes, is a devastatingly powerful film about the complicated relationship between a father and his son set against the backdrop of civil strife. The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke’s vision of an early 20 th century German village in which disturbing acts of cruelty take place, is both terrifying and masterful. Palestinian Elia Suleiman’s The Time That Remains is an astute and surprisingly funny look at the Palestinian struggle. In one of the year’s most controversial films, Michael Winterbottom x-rays the mind of a sadistic killer in The Killer Inside Me which stars Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson.

Also courting controversy is Four Lions by Christopher Morris, which finds hilarity in the misguided efforts of a group of British jihadists who collectively decide to become suicide bombers. Produced by Indian megastar Aamir Khan and directed by Anusha Rizvi, Peepli Live is a hilarious comedy about the media frenzy, political hypocrisy and general mayhem that come about when a poor farmer undertakes to commit suicide in order to save the family farm. In a remake of the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, Chinese master Zhang Yimou follows the success of Hero and The House Of Flying Daggers with energetic and dark A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop . In White Material, featuring extraordinary performances by Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert and Isaach De Bankole, Claire Denis has created a riveting and politically complex film about a Frenchwoman desperately trying to hang on to her coffee plantation in an unnamed Africa country in the throes of revolution.

The festival includes films by some of international cinema’s most prominent and respected directors such as Buddhadeb Dasgupta (The Window), Alain Renais (Wild Grass), Fatih Akin (Soul Kitchen), Brillante Mendoza (Lola), Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Nymph), Bong Joon-ho (Mother), Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime), Yoichi Sai (Kamui), Guiseppe Tornatore (Baaria), Ferzan Ozpetek (Loose Cannons), and Mohammad Rasoulof (The White Meadows).

Alongside these experienced filmmakers, DIFF 2010 will introduce South African audiences to the new generation of auteurs. Exciting new talents include Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother), Anocha Suwichakornpong (Mundane History), Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), Arvin Chen (Au Revoir Taipei), Nicolo Donato (Brotherhood), Sophie Letourneur (Chicks), Paz Fabrega (Cold Water Of The Sea), Giorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), Christopher Morris (Four Lions), Adrien Binez (Giant), Daniel Barber (Harry Brown), Alvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro (Me Too), Sherman Ong (Memories Of A Burning Tree), Claudia Llosa (The Milk Of Sorrow), Doze, Niu Chen-Zer (Monga), Dai Sako (Running On Empty), Shalizeh Arefpour (Heiran), Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni (The Well), and Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone).

Ingmar Bergman

This year the festival will present a focus on the cinema of Sweden made up five contemporary Swedish films under the banner Swedish Film Is Here, and five films by the great Ingmar Bergman in the section Swedish Film Is Bergman. Swedish Film Is Here is made up of the outstanding debut Sebbe by Babak Najafi, Jesper Gansladt’s tense The Ape, DIFF regular Lukas Moodysson’s Mammoth (starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams), Tarik Saleh’s exquisite animated film Metropia, and Niels Arden Oplev’s much-anticipated The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo based on the bestselling novel. In Swedish Film Is Bergman five of the great master’s films will be presented: Smiles Of A Summer’s Night (1955), Wild Strawberries (1957), Winter Light (1963), Cries And Whispers (1973) and Fanny And Alexander (1982).

DIFF Doccies

DIFF’s documentary programme provides sharp insight into a spectrum of African realities, such as the inner city conflicts and concerns dramatically addressed in the world premiere of Rehad Desai’s The Battle for Johannesburg, and inside stories from Cape Town informal settlements in When The Mountain Meets Its Shadow .

South Africa ‘s turbulent history becomes a lot clearer through Connie Field’s articulate exposition of how the sports boycott became a turning point for political change in Have You Heard From Johannesburg: Fairplay, while The Cradock Four covers the abduction and killing of activists during the seventies and early eighties . Savo Tufegdzic’s Sons Of The Sand The Strini Moodley interview is a riveting testament to the co-founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, while RFK In The Land Of Apartheid – A Ripple Of Hope tells of Robert Kennedy’s historic visit to South Africa during the oppressive 1960s.

Surfing Soweto follows a group of Soweto teenagers who surf moving trains; t he Foster brothers’ My Hunter’s Heart journeys with the Khomani San as they try to recapture some of the knowledge and skills of their ancestors. Other offerings include miracles of the mind in Renée Scheltema ‘s Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What ; Steve Kwena Mokwena ‘s a esthetic meditation on postcolonial Africa in Driving With Fanon ; Mzimasi Gova’s reflection on golf development in black townships in The Fairway; Josh Sternlicht’s Fool In A Bubble, which is a candid exploration into the journey and conflicts of cult Durban musician/poet, Syd Kitchen; and Letters From Teddy, Terry Westby-Nunn’s poignant story s et against the backdrop of British colonial society in Aden in the 1950s.

Mugabe and the White African is an extraordinary tale of defiance, hope and perseverance in the face of injustice and brutality in Zimbabwe . The reality of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo is laid bare in a quartet of superb short documentaries entitled Congo in Four Acts and in the beguiling story of the creation of the Kinshasa Symphony. Koundi and the National Thursday is an inside look at life in a village community in the forests of Cameroon .  Coming out of the Nkuta introduces us to brave Cameroonians who struggle for a sense of value and legitimacy for gay people within their communities;

In the troubled Middle East, DIFF explores the tenacity of daily existence amidst sustained destruction in Aisheen – Still Alive In Gaza, while Tehran Without Permission, s hot entirely on a cellphone, captures the character of the city in the run-up to the controversial elections of last year. The Shock Doctrine is Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross ‘s cinematic interpretation of Naomi Klein’s bestseller and outlines the rise of “disaster capitalism”.

Amusing, compelling and disturbing, The Game of Death follows contestants in a fake game show which is really a controversial experiment that raises a warning against blindly following authority and about the manipulative power of television itself. Featuring Sara Ziff and other noted photographers, designers and models, the raw and intimate Picture Me: A Model’s Diary lifts the veil on the often exploitative world of high fashion modelling, The hilarious and poignant Winnebago Man reveals the story of Jack Rebney (a.k.a. “the angriest man in the world”), who turns out to be more savvy, deep, weird, and cool than anyone could have imagined.

Additionally, a number of short documentary packages offer a variety of revealing insights into Ugandan and Nigerian society, and of course South Africa.

Eco-Lens at Diff 2010

Filmmakers are key agents in keeping a watchful eye on threats to human ecology and environmental balance in films such as Scientists Under Attack, and South African Carlos Franciso’s American Foulbrood. When the water that comes out of your taps turns to flame you know something is wrong – Gasland explores the shocking consequences of massive natural gas drilling across the USA . On a highly positive note the multi-award winning Waste Land witnesses the creative production that results when art and poverty collide at the world’s largest rubbish dump in Brazil, while the 4 th Revolution: Energy Autonomy outlines the tantalising possibility of switching to 100% renewable energy sources in the next 30 years.

Short Cuts

Recognising short films not only as an all-important stepping stone for film makers who wish to venture into documentary or feature film making but also as a valid art form in their own right, this year’s Durban International Film Festival boasts a bountiful selection of 58 short films with a strong focus on films made in Africa and films about Africa. 22 are from South Africa and 19 have been made in African countries.

The shorts are compiled in eight separate viewing packages, and are flagship screenings in DIFF’s community programmes. The line-up includes award winning South African film Father Christmas Doesn’t Come Here, and the winner of the Berlin Today Award 2010, Jonah And The Vicarious Nature Of Homesickness, as well as a crop of hot films made by emerging AFDA film students. The Latitude package, supported by the Goethe Institut, presents an excellent array of 9 contemporary African films which includes Jan-Hendrik Beetge’s Abyss Boys, recently named best short film at the African Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria.

Workshops and seminars

Optimising the presence of filmmakers and industry experts, DIFF offers a packed programme of seminars and workshops aimed at both aspirant filmmakers and professionals. An open and free workshop programme takes place daily at The Royal Hotel. Closed programmes include the 3 rd Talent Campus Durban which brings together 40 filmmakers from 20 different African countries, the 9 th UKZN Audio Visual’s week-long workshop for first-time filmmakers, and the inaugural edition of the Durban FilmMart, a film financing and co-production initiative in partnership with the Durban Film Office. Involving local and international producers and film financiers, the Durban FilmMart’s Finance Forum and Producers Forum will provide capacity-building programmes and business networking opportunities to stimulate industry development and filmmaking in Africa . Allied to industry stimulation are DIFF audience development initiatives to broaden public access in community based venues, and a Film Literacy programme for schools in the Inanda-Ntuzuma-Kwamashu area of Durban .

See all film synopses, screening schedules and workshop programme at www.cca.ukzn.ac.za

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.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. Call 031 2602506 or 031 2601650 for further details.

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre For Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, HIVOS, City Of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Commonwealth Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.

General queries: Durban International Film Festival
031 260 2506

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