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DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-06-3)

With over 200 films from 77 countries, the 28th Durban International Film Festival offers a selection of the finest in world cinema, spread over more than 300 screenings at 24 venues across the Durban district. The festival also provides an extensive programme of free workshops and seminars to inspire young filmmakers and stimulate the film industry in KwaZulu-Natal.

The festival opens on June 20 with the World Premiere of Darrell James Roodt’s Meisie, a gentle and humane film set in a community on the peripheries of the Kalahari Desert. Roodt’s Oscar-nominated Yesterday opened the festival in 2004. The festival’s closing film is Guillermo del Toro’s three-time Oscar-winner Pan’s Labyrinth, a visual masterpiece which straddles the fantastic and the tragic.

In between the two, the festival will once again offer a thrilling ride through the world of contemporary cinema, which will enrich and entertain, inspire and enlighten. Including numerous award-winners, the line-up of cutting edge feature films is supplemented by a prime selection of topical documentaries and short films.

Some of the world’s finest directors will have their new films presented at the festival including Aderrahmane Sissako (Bamako), Lars von Trier (The Boss Of It All), Zhang Yimou (Curse Of The Golden Flower), Rachid Bouchareb (Days Of Glory), Timur Bekmambetov (Day Watch), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Dry Season), Nick Broomfield (Ghosts), Bahman Ghobadi (Half Moon), Tsai Ming-Liang (I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone), Ray Lawrence (Jindabyne), Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda Linda Linda), Kenneth Branagh (The Magic Flute), Garin Nugroho (Opera Jawa), Jia Zhang-Ke (Still Life), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Syndromes And A Century), and Kim Ki-duk (Time).

Along with the established filmmakers, the festival will also present a range of striking works by new directors including Days In Paris by Julie Delpy, Aachi & Ssipak by Joe Bum-jin, AFR by Morten Hartz Kaplers, Armin by Ognjen Svilicic, Bog Of Beasts by Claudio Assis, Cashback by Sean Ellis, Does It Hurt? – The First Balkan Dogma by Aneta Lesnikovska, Elvis Pelvis by Kevin Aduaka, Faces Of A Fig Tree by Momoi Kaori, Fourteen by Hirosue Hiromasa, Glue by Alexis dos Santos, On The Wings Of Dreams by Golam Rabbany Biplob, Paraguayan Hammock by Paz Encina, Playing The Victim by Kirill Serebrennikov, Princess by Anders Morgenthaler, Sankara by Prasanna Jayakody, The Sensation Of Sight by Aaron J. Wiederspahn, The Solution by Ivan Kavanagh, Tan Lines by Ed Aldridge, Taxidermia by Gyorgy Palfi, The Unforgiven by Jong-bin Yoon, The Unpolished by Pia Marais and Vanaja by Rajnesh Domalpalli.

The festival once again presents, under the African Perspectives banner, the cream of the crop of new African cinema, including, from South Africa, Darrell James Roodt’s Meisie and Prey, Khalo Matabane’s When We Were Black, John Barker’s Bunny Chow, Angus Gibson’s Heartlines, and Kumaran Naidu’s Broken Promises 2. From the rest of Africa, the festival presents a range of films from the continent’s most exciting filmmaking talent. Included in the selection are Bamako by Abderrahmane Sissako, Juju Factory by Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, Kinshasa Palace by Zeka Laplaine, Africa Paradise by Sylvestre Amoussou, ,Dry Season by Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, Ezra by Newton Aduaka and the Oscar-nominated Days Of Glory by Rachid Bouchareb.

Other themes and focus areas include: New Crowned Hope, a series of fascinating film commissioned as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Mozart, and focuses on Cinema of the Middle East, New Italian Cinema, Gay and Lesbian Cinema, New Danish Cinema, an Indian Ocean Islands Panorama, and a series of films on music. In addition, the festival presents the Poverty and Inequality Film Festival which is being presented alongside the Poverty and Inequality Challenge Conference.

The Wavescapes Surf Film Festival will return to DIFF with ripping hot surf screen action, and DIFF also hosts, for the first time, ICEBOX DBN, a collaborative festival of contemporary creativity in audio-visual art, with a focus on the electronic.

The issue-based documentary programme includes themes such as slavery, racism and the road to freedom, social and political matters, streetwise tales from the urban underground, films about the impacts of consumerism, and conscientising films about the environment. World premieres of Peter McKenzie’s What Kind? and Nikki Comninos’s documentary series on the History of Cato Manor form part of the South African lineup alongside the multi-award winning The Mother’s House by Francois Verster, Senzeni Na (What Have We Done) by Portia Rankoane, Counting Headz: Sistaz In Hip Hop by Vusi Magubane, and Unauthorised Mbeki by Ben Cashdan, Redi Direko and Meril Rasmussen - the first public screening of the Thabo Mbeki biography that was pulled off air by the SABC last year.

Also included are two Tribeca winners We Are Together (Thina Simunye) by Paul Taylor, and The Cats Of Mirikitani by Linda Hattendorf. Sure to generate interest are In Debt We Trust: America Before The Bubble Bursts by Emmy-winning journalist Danny Schechter, Operation Filmmaker, a cross-cultural endeavour dramatically captured by Nina Davenport, the provocative What Would Jesus Buy? by Rob Van Alkemade, a musical journey with a difference Youssou N’dour: Return To Goree by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud, and critique-laden America The Beautiful by Darryl Roberts, which features teen supermodel Gerren Taylor who will also participate in the MTN Durban Fashion Week.

Special music events include the Durban Film Office (DFO) Youth in Film Music Concert on June 23 featuring Prokid, Sliko and others. The Agape Orphanage Choir will sing at the screenings of the film We are Together. Oreka Tx from Spain will present live demonstrations of the extraordinary Basque instrument, the txalapartha, at the screenings of their film Nomadak TX; and also perform at the Wavescapes finale as does Farryl Purkiss. A ticket to the Awards Ceremony and Closing Film also accesses you to the DIFF closing party which features special guest band Omar Pene from Senegal (their only performance in Durban).

Principal screening venues are Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; Nu-Metro CineCentre SunCoast; Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau screened by Jameson Gateway; Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; Kwasuka Theatre, and the BAT Centre, with further screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets from the first week of June. Full festival details can also be found on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or by calling 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1650.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) the Durban International Film Festival is funded by National Film & Video Foundation, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, HIVOS, Stichting Doen, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, and the City of Durban, with valued support from a range of other partners.




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