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SA FILMS AT NAF (article first published : 2005-05-29)

The rich harvest of recent South African films is a major component of the Film programme at the National Arts Festival which takes place in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 9. Other sections of the listing are devoted to current international movies (including several premières) and a sampling of the avant-garde.

This year’s good news story, Golden Bear winner U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (directed by Mark Dornford-May) announces that the extraordinary achievements of South African filmmakers during 2004 are just a sign of greater things to come.

Mzantsi's finest recent films to be screened at the Festival include Darrell James Roodt’s Oscar nominee Yesterday and Don’t Fuck with Me, I have 51 Brothers and Sisters – a documentary by Dumisani Phakathi (Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner 2002) who went in search of his father’s numerous offspring.

Craig Freimond’s Gums and Noses (best film at the Apollo Film Festival), Skilpoppe by André Odendaal and Ian Gabriel’s Forgiveness all fearlessly chart the darker sides of contemporary South African life.

David Lister’s filmic version of Olive Schreiner’s classic novel The Story of an African Farm will be screened as will Liza Key’s A Sentimental Journey – a documentary on a small-town song and dance group that fell foul of the cynical western culture industry. Festinos can catch Teddy Mattera’s talked about Max and Mona, which tells of a young professional mourner and his sacred goat enmeshed in the wicked ways of the big city. On a more upbeat note, Revel Fox’s The Flyer sweeps a street child up into the gravity-defying world of high trapeze.

Zola Maseko’s Drum (focussing on journalist Henry Nxumalo) won the Golden Stallion of Yennenga prize at Africa’s important Fespaco Film Festival in Burkina Faso. Visitors can see it at the National Arts Festival and find out why.

More cultural questioning informs Mickey Dube’s Mozart – The Music of the Violin (about a talented boy with a pushy mother) and Ivory Mask, Lehlohonolo ‘Shaft’ Moropane’s exposé of xenophobia, betrayal and the exploitation of Africa’s cultural past that won Best South African Short Film at the Durban Film Festival.

Hopeville Mansions is a drama about sisterhood by Sasha Celland-Stokes and Mark Bamford’s Cape of Good Hope is a heart-warming ‘people’ story. Here is the Dove-Cow tethered to the Clouds by David Basckin and Zoë Molver features popular author and champion of our Nguni herds, Marguerite Poland talking about her passion.

Khalo Matabane took a hand-held camera on numerous minibus taxi rides to record real conversations about the country we call home for his documentary The Story of a Beautiful Country, while Pascal Lanche’s Sophiatown is a feast of music by 50s jazz stars. Lara Foot Newton and Gerhard Marx use sophisticated animation technology in And There in the Dust – a work on the horror of baby rape.

Trevor Steele Taylor is the director of the film programme of the National Arts Festival and once again, popular cineaste Leon van Nierop will be on hand to lead discussions about a number of the screenings.

Free Booking Kits for the Festival are available at selected Standard Bank branches and Computicket outlets. Booking is at Computicket. For further information go to the website www.nafest.co.za or phone 046 603 1103.

The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, the SABC, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the National Arts Council proudly sponsor the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.




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