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DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: (article first published : 2000-10-5)

Music movies, short films, documentaries, animation, and full length features; film workshops, township screenings, and guest directors will make up the extensive programme of the Durban International Film Festival. Presented by the University of Natal's Centre for Creative Arts, screenings will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and other venues from October 17 to 29.

In its 21st anniversary year, the festival adopts a fresh approach and a more pro-active stance to inspire the film making projects so lacking in KZN. The province, and Durban in particular, needs to develop an appropriate infrastructure to provide job opportunities within the film industry. Devised to stimulate film education and production, festival workshops will feature visiting directors who will explain their narrative and cinematic techniques to budding filmmakers and interested public.

The new festival manager is Dr. Alex Holt, a graduate of the Centre for Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, where he has worked as a lecturer and research consultant, specialising in advertising and film theory. He has also worked on the production of several documentaries, primarily in the capacity of cinematographer. Currently developing a screenplay for a plot driven film based on a story that takes place in Durban, Alex has been on the steering committee of FAWU (KZN) - the Film and Allied Workers Union. Alex recently coordinated the successful Aids Mini Film Festival in conjunction with the Amasiko programme of the XIII International Aids Conference which took place in Durban this year.

The festival is pleased to present work from neighbouring Zimbabwe in the form of John Riber's Yellow Card. This is a warm comedy about sex, soccer and the journey towards self-knowledge and responsibility that will appeal to young audiences. Presenting this film, John Riber will also be part of the screenwriters workshop on October 26 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Riber's visit has been co-sponsored by the Centre for Cultural and Media Studies where he will also conduct workshops.

Another of Riber's films More Time (with screenplay by well-known Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembega) will also be screened at the festival.

A particularly fascinating film on the festival horizon is Jaya Ganga which will be presented by its celebrated author-director Vijay Singh. This film is currently enjoying huge acclaim on the art film circuit in London and has been predicted to win the best foreign film award in Britain. The great popularity of this film derives from the masterful texture Singh applies to a plot based around a sojourn down the Ganges from the Himalayas to the sea. His central character - an Indian writer living in Paris still under the spell of a beautiful Parisian woman - brings into sharp focus issues of intercultural identity. Jaya Ganga is largely self-financed from the proceeds of Vijay's successful novel by the same name, published by Penguin.

Dubbed as one of the greatest movies of the twentieth century, Stalker (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, will be screened for the first time in South Africa at the Festival. An intriguing and extraordinary journey into the future, this film tells the story of Stalker, a man who acts as a guide to those who want to illegally enter the "Zone", a possible visitation from outer space which harbours the unknown .

Another expected highlight is The Annihilation of Fish directed by Charles Burnett with James Earl Jones and Lynn Regrave who play an unlikely pair who find love and fulfillment in a reality that transcends their fantasies.

A good example of some of the cutting edge films imported by the Festival is Kikujiro directed by Takeshi Kitano. Tough guy Kikujiro is an unlikely candidate to take a sensitive nine year-old boy Masao on a quest to find his mother. On a tour filled with zany surprises and odd-ball characters Masao collects a wealth of information for his "What I did last summer" project.

The festival has a wide spread of film fare of the highest calibre; the full schedule of approximately 35 films is available at Durban Arts, Troubadour Productions and various arts-related outlets.

Book at Computicket and tickets are available at the theatre an hour before each screening. Tickets R15 (R10 pp concession price for 10 or more bookings). More details from (031) 260-2506 (office hours).




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