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NAF FILMS (article first published : 2003-07-1)

Two programmes of work by Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner,Dumisani Phakhati at the 2003 National Arts Festival flag the new maturity of local film. His is a 100% homegrown talent and both his documentaries and features take local themes to the big screen with awesome assurance.

Flanking this young lion are award-winning South African directors working both here and abroad. Gerald Fox’s London comedy Sitting Ducks is one of three Festival 2003 premières. Several movies are music based. A Lion’s Tail tells the story of a famous song, popularly known as The Lion Sleeps Tonight, its author Soloman Linda, and how he lost out until writer Riaan Malan took up his cause.

In Sharp Sharp Aryan Kaganoff (aka Ian Kerkhoff) trains his lens on the local kwaito scene – Zola, DJ Fresh, and Lindelani Mkhize are among the big noises who feature. Liza Key’s Karoo Kitaar Blues won’t be ready for Festival 2003 but its central figure David Kramer will make a live appearance at the Winter School to talk about the real-life adventure behind the movie: a series of trips into the Karoo to ‘discover’ unconventional guitar artists.

Crime flicks and thrillers on the programme include Liza Key’s documentary on Wouter Basson, The Man who Knows too Much – in a hard-hitting Winter School lecture, Judge Denis Davis will claim the law failed in Basson’s case. Cedric Sundstrom’s documentary on The Suitcase Murders is not for the faint-hearted and Oliver Schmitz’s fictional Hijack Stories takes a cool talkshow host into Jozi’s violent underworld. Francois Verster’s When the War is Over is a visual and emotional trip into the world of drugs, gangsterism and violence inhabited by ex-struggle militants.

Literature informs several new South African pieces. Eubulus Timothy’s Othello puts a new spin on the Shakespeare classic by making Iago black as well as the hero. Dewald Aukema and his crew risked their lives to make their Heart of Darkness, retracing the journey that Joseph Conrad’s character Kurtz made up the Congo River. Meg Rickards’ Azure is based on the K Sello Duiker short story Thirteen Cents about a street child’s coming of age. Zola Maseko used an Alan Paton story as the starting point for his A Drink in the Passage. And if you missed the award-winning film based on Karel Schoeman’s Promised Land, Festival 2003 gives you the chance to catch up.

Thorny contemporary issues tackled by other local movies include HIV (Jacqueline and Gerald Fox’s Together we Can), disregard for suffering in neighbouring states (Akim Omotoso’s God is African) and the problematics of old stereotypes (Neil Sonnekus’s Down Under).

Once again, the Film Resource Unit will run a South African shorts programme at Nombulelo Hall. They’ll show more than a dozen short pieces dealing with grassroots reality, offering food for optimism spiced with fresh ideas about tough social issues.

This year’s National Arts Festival is sponsored by the Eastern Cape Government, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Standard Bank, the SABC and the National Arts Council. Booking is open at Computicket nationwide. Booking can also be made at www.nafest.co.za




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