Absolutely the best time to visit Durban, South Africa, for anyone who loves film. The 10-day 2013 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which kicks off in the Indian Ocean resort city on July 18, will screen 72 feature films, 48 documentaries and 45 short films.
If you’ve ever coincided a vacation with Sundance, Telluride or any other top-notch movie-themed feast, you’ll have an idea of why this package could work. For any movie enthusiast planning a trip to South Africa, the film festival offers a unique and worthwhile focus.
The 34th annual Durban International Film Festival celebrate the diversity of global cinema.
Dovetailing with the festival is a comprehensive workshop and seminar program that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills by film industry experts.
The burgeoning African film industry will once more be represented at DIFF 2013. South African film retains the key focus in the Africa category with 12 feature films, 16 documentaries and a number of short films, many having their world premieres in Durban.
This year’s opening film is the ground-breaking African-noir work Of Good Report by Jahmil XT Qubeka, which debuted at the Rotterdam Film Festival in January. The story of a serial killer obsessed with beautiful young girls, the film expands the language of African cinema.
The festival’s closing film acknowledges Angela Davis, an important figure in the African diaspora, with the film Free Angela (and all political prisoners), directed by Shola Lynch.
High-profile South African films being showcased include Layla Fourie, The Forgotten Kingdom which is set in Lesotho, Felix — about a young township boy intent on following his dreams of being a musician — and The Good Man, an intriguing look at a globalized reality.
Other SA films include Ian Robert’s Everyman’s Taxi, Andrew Worsdale’s long-awaited Durban Poison and Khumba from animation studio Triggerfish. Also look out for Blood Tokoloshe from Amariam Productions, Actorholic by Oliver Rodger, who gave us last year’s Copposites, and African Gothic based on the Reza de Wet play Diepe Grond.
From other parts of Africa are some cinematic gems dealing with significant issues, including Tall As The Baobab Tree, (Senegal), Yema, (Algeria), Virgin Margarida (Mozambique), The Battle Of Tabato (Guinea-Bissau, Portugal), Something Necessary (Kenya) and It’s Us (Kenya) among others.
This year’s festival includes a strong showcase of American independent films including Wrong, the latest film from Quentin Dupieux who gave us the DIFF cult-hit Rubber in 2011, and Spring Breakers from Harmony Korine.
Francine tells the small and delicately drawn story of a socially inept woman who has just come of out prison while The Place Beyond the Pines (my favorite film so far this year in terms of layers, textures, integration of themes and believable characters) starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper comes to the festival from director Derek Cianfrance, who gave us Blue Valentine (also starring Gosling).
This year’s program showcases the multiple perspectives that define the cultural landscape of contemporary Europe and the diverse ways. With support from organisations and partnerships such as EUNIC, World Documentary Exchange and Festival Scope, audiences can expect some superb European films including Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa, Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, his first film in more than a decade.
This year DIFF acknowledges the wide diversity of sexual identities being explored on contemporary screens. The selection of both documentaries and features include Dennis Cotes’ drama Vic+Flo Saw a Bear, which chronicles the relationship between an ex-convict and her younger female lover; Valentine Road, which provides a sociological post-mortem on the death of a young transgender boy and The Future in which a young girl becomes a sexual companion to a blind former action hero.
Then there’s Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Russian’s feminist punk collective); I Am Divine, a biopic about the gender-bending singer and artist Divine, and Born This Way, about the lives of gay men and lesbians in Cameroon.
With literally hundreds of Zombie films currently scheduled for release around the world, DIFF 2013 showcases a selection of films from the current Zombie wave. Headlining this mini-focus area is the long-awaited remake of the Evil Dead, which conforms in many ways to the classic zombie genre.
A host of award-winning films from around the world will screen at DIFF 2013, including works from some of contemporary cinema’s most luminous talents.
From Chinese director Wong Kar Wai comes The Grandmaster, which opened Berlin this year, while Canadian director David Cronenberg descends once more into the darkness with Cosmopolis based on the Don deLillo novel.
Takeshi Kitano, the king of stylised violence, delivers Outrage Beyond, while the enigmatic Closed Curtain comes from banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Deepa Mehta gives us a gorgeously sprawling rendition of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children while Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt will chill you to the bone.
Then there’s the exciting news that Ashgar Farhadi, whose A Separation won both the best Foreign Picture Oscar this year as well as best film at DIFF 2012, returns with his latest film The Past.
Feast of Doccies
There is a wealth of documentaries to satisfy a spectrum of tastes and interests at this year’s festival.
And of course, there’s a strong selection from South Africa, where the documentary form is growing in stature and volume.
Riaan Hendrick’s The Devil’s Lair transports us deep into a claustrophobic drug den on the Cape Flats, while celebrated local documentary-maker Damon Foster gives us a window into the life of a very special crocodile with Touching The Dragon.
Angels in Exile is a moving documentary about two proud yet impoverished children who live on the streets of Durban and The Creators pays tribute to the creative power of South Africa’s youth, including acclaimed graffiti artist Faith 47.
From further afield African Metropolis is a collection of short slices of reality from around the continent. The Spirit of 45, from British feature director Ken Loach looks at the enduring influence of the labour movement during the war years while More Than Honey tells of the importance of maintaining the earth’s bee population and Algorithms presents the riveting story of blind chess players in India.
Wavescape Surf Film Festival
For the ninth year, DIFF partners with Wavescape to present a feast of surfing cinema, including 11 features and 5 shorts.
Wavescape opens with a free outdoor screening at the Bay of Plenty Lawns on Sunday 21 July.
The Films That Made Me
For the first time this year, DIFF presents a repertory section in which film fans and filmmakers have the opportunity to access a slice of film history.
In ‘The Films That Made Me’, South African director Jahmil XT Qubeka presents five films that have been influential in his growth as a filmmaker.
The Sixth Talent Campus Durban will bring together the creativity of 50 selected filmmakers from 18 different countries in Africa, chosen from over 450 submissions, who will take part in a series of masterclasses, workshops and industry networking opportunities during the festival.
Now in its fourth year, the Durban FilmMart, a partnership project between DIFF and the Durban Film Office, supported by the City of Durban, is a film finance and co-production market presented in three strands – Finance Forum, Master Classes and the Africa in Focus seminars.
The DFM master class and networking programme is open to registered delegates only. See www.durbanfilmmart.com for further details.
DIFF is pleased to announce that a strategic partnership has been formed with Durban Wild Talk Africa, the continent’s most respected natural history film festival and conference, which takes place from July 23 to 26.
A selection of nine natural history films have been chosen from 445 entries from across the globe, to be screened at the festival.
Registration for the Wild Talk conference is available at wildtalkafrica.com/register/.
Venues and Tickets
The festival hub is at the beachfront Blue Waters Hotel, with principal screening venues at Suncoast Cinecentre, Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau Gateway, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu.
Program booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films and ticket prices will be available free at cinemas, and other outlets. For full festival details see the DIFF website.
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the Durban International Film Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.
Fly to South Africa with South African Airways or Emirates. SAA flies to South Africa from Washington and New York and has an alliance with Jet Blue for anyone flying from the West Coast. Emirates flies via Dubai and directly into Durban.