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DIFF COMING UP! (article first published : 2005-06-13)

Animation, surfing, and the cinema of Burkina Faso and Asia will all be the subject of a special focus by the 26th Durban International Film Festival which takes place this year from June15 to 26. Celebrating the best in international, national and continental cinema, the festival will present over 300 screenings, most of which are premiere showings in South Africa. Cutting edge feature films fresh from major festivals across the world will be supplemented by a choice selection of topical documentaries and short films. The festival also offers filmmaker workshops, industry seminars, discussion forums and outreach activities that include screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent.

Although the DIFF is an international film festival it is also a major platform for South African cinema. This year the festival will present the World Premiere of Faith’s Corner which reunites the Oscar-nominated team of Anant Singh, Darrell James Roodt, and Leleti Khumalo. The festival will also host the South African Premiere of Ramadan Suleman's Zulu Love Letter, and other new South African films such as Drum, uCarmen eKhayelitsha, In My Country, A Boy Called Twist, Cape of Good Hope, and 34 South.

The strong international selection includes new films by Woody Allen (Melinda and Melinda), Wong Kar-Wai (2046), Michael Winterbottom (9 Songs), Ken Loach (Ae Fond Kiss), Buddhadeb Dasgupta (Chased By Dreams), Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle), Ousmane Sembene (Moolade), Wim Wenders (Land Of Plenty) and Todd Solondz (Palindromes).

A powerful presentation of cinema from Africa with films from Senegal, Angola, Morocco and Egypt, also incorporates a focus on cinema from Burkina Faso which cuts across three generations of filmmaking traditions in this uniquely film-besotted country. This will include the work of the legendary Idrissa Ouadraogo, and films by Dani Kouyate and newcomer Appoline Traore, who will all attend the festival. In keeping with its strong Asian focus, the festival includes an excellent selection of films from this continent. India is well-represented by films from established masters like Dasgupta and Shyam Benegal, as well as new filmmakers Shonali Bose (Amu) and Bharatbala (Hari Om).

From Japan the festival is delighted to present two animated works from true legends of animation; from Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Spirited Away which took the Best Film award at DIFF 2003, comes the masterful Howl’s Moving Castle, and from Katsuhiro Otomo, the celebrated director of Akira, comes the eagerly-anticipated Steamboy. Other Japanese films in the festival include Oscar-nominated director Yoji Yamada’s samurai epic, The Hidden Blade, the unique gangster film Starlit High Noon and the Cannes-winner Nobody Knows. Korea once again has a fine selection of films in the festival including the award-winning films Old Boy and 3-Iron. The Chinese films Peacock, Season Of The Horse and Kekexili: Mountain Patrol complete the Asian films in the selection.

Other festival components include the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival and a focus on animation. Honouring Durban’s worldwide reputation as Surf City the DIFF this year hosts a week - long focus on the cult genre of surf movies in collaboration with the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave from June19 to 24. Wavescapes will open with a special beachfront event at the Bay of Plenty lawns on June 18, using a giant inflatable screen.

The animation focus which showcases a selection of superb animated films, such as 2005 Oscar winner Ryan, also includes the launch of the Interface Animation Festival sidebar on June 21 at Nu Metro Cinecentre - Suncoast, and the five-week UNSECO Africa Animated workshop for young creatives from East and Southern Africa.

The festival opens its Playhouse programme with the South African Premiere of Ramadan Suleman's Zulu Love Letter at the Drama Theatre on June19 . In addition, the Playhouse Loft will host selected documentaries and short films throughout the second week of the festival. The DIFF is one of the few places, often the only place, where Durban audiences can get to see the high standard of local documentaries and shorts in which so many of our filmmakers cut their teeth and hone their craft.

Seminars and workshops are an important cornerstone in the DIFF which contribute to the growth of the local industry. The spectrum of activities ranges from master classes and panel discussions involving visiting filmmakers to entry level courses. Open seminars offer a unique opportunity for aspirants and the interested public to gain insight into the world of filmmaking from leading industry figures. At 12h00 from June 20 to 24 the Playhouse Loft will host afternoon seminars and panel discussions that explore new approaches and techniques, and look into the future of film.

Other workshops include a week-long programme for young filmmakers at Ekhaya in KwaMashu in conjunction with Imagination Lab; the intensive four day video production workshop for first-time filmmakers from community organisations run by Audio-Visual Centre (UKZN); the Africa Animated open workshop on June 18; an acting workshop on June 25; and a two-week workshop on television inserts with film students of the Durban Institute of Technology.

The special focus on Youth on June 16 includes a major music and film event in Gugu Dlamini Park, hosted by the Durban Film Office. Other music events during the festival include the Waiting for the Musick project which features Mxo, Blackfist of Garvey, and others, at The Playhouse on June 24.

A highlight of the festival is the presence of local and international directors, actors and film industry personalities who introduce films and participate in the seminars and workshops. On the Awards Night of June 25, the Durban International Film Festival presents awards in a number of categories. The 2005 International jury comprises Ethiopian filmmaker Maji Abdi, Marianne Bhalotra from the Rotterdam Film Festival, Indian filmmaker Buddadeb Dasgupta, South African filmmaker and actor Akin Omotoso, and Wieland Speck of the Berlin Film Festival.

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with principle funding and support from the National Film & Video Foundation, National Lottery Distribution Fund, HIVOS, Stichting Doen, City of Durban and Ethekwini Municipality. The festival is hosted at nine principal venues: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; CinemaScreen Entertainment (CSE) at The Workshop; Nu-Metro CineCentre at SunCoast; Cinema Nouveau at Gateway; The Playhouse (Drama Theatre and Loft Theatre); Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; Stable Theatre in Alice Street, Warwick Junction; and Ster-Kinekor Musgrave. Further screenings take place at tertiary institutions and a range of community venues.

More information from the Centre for Creative Arts on 031 260 2506 or 260 1650. Film synopses of all the films are available on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za




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