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MUSIC FILMS AT DIFF (article first published : 2008-07-15)

Cinema in all its diversity will once again be celebrated at the 29th Durban International Film Festival which runs from July 23 to August 3.

Featuring more than 200 films from more than 95 countries, spread over more than 300 screenings at 26 venues across the city, the festival will bring together established masters of cinema and innovative new talents from around the world.

Music is an important element in most films, but DIFF 2008 includes, as in previous years, some special treats where music is centre screen. Patti Smith: Dream of Life is a plunge into the philosophy and artistry of cult rocker Patti Smith. Known as the godmother of punk, she emerged in the 1970s, galvanising the music scene with her unique style of poetic rage, music and trademark swagger. Narrated by Smith, the film follows this multitalented and private artist over eleven years of international travel, through her spoken words, performances, lyrics, interviews, paintings, and photographs. Dream of Life reveals a complicated, charismatic personality.

Lost Prophets, a South African made documentary, presents the real scoop about legendary and influential hip-hop group Prophets of the City. Featuring a Molotov-cocktail of a soundtrack, and interviews with members Ready D, Jazmo, Ramone, Gogga and Ishmael, we are immersed in the life and times of a group whose discography could be read as a primer to the difficult art of making conscious music while not rendering the listener unconscious.

Punk-rock Zanzibar-style anyone? As Old As My Tongue – The Myth And Life of Bi-Kidude is an intimate portrait of the legendary Zanzibar musician, who at 93 is probably the oldest performer on the world stage today. Bi Kidude wins friends wherever she travels but at home in Zanzibar she continually courts controversy, her behaviour challenging perceptions of the role of women in a Muslim society as well as our ideas of age and stardom. Punctuated with sensational live footage, the film reveals the dramatic contrasts in the life of this iconic musician and features a classic soundtrack comprising one hundred years of Swahili music.

Zulu Meets Jazz, a co-production between Italy and South Africa focuses on renowned Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, who, through his collaborations with musicians throughout the world has been able to add new flavours to jazz as well as attract new audiences to the form. Here Fresu, on a musical visit to KZN, takes a special voyage through South African township jazz with the guidance of the KZN Vintage Legends Orchestra, which includes the legends Theo Bophela and Ndikho Xaba, both in their seventies. Encompassing great performances, the role of music during Apartheid, and the experiences of exiled musicians, Zulu Meets Jazz is a music lover's dream.

Stimela: The Search For The Missing Chord, is a riveting look at one of South Africa's most important bands, and chronicles a journey that went beyond the boundaries of the ordinary to urge those who listened to reach deep into themselves to reflect on their identity as well as to manifest their own destiny. Tracing the story from genesis to dazzling success, break up and make up, Stimela includes incisive interviews with band members as well as key role players, archival material, music videos and unique backstage footage of a recent reunion show in Durban.

Control by acclaimed rock photographer Anton Corbijn is an insightful, funny and tragic film about the legendary English post-punk band, Joy Division. In beautiful monochrome, the film looks at the life of the late Ian Curtis, the enigmatic lead singer of Joy Division, spanning Curtis’ last several years leading up to his tragic suicide in 1980, and the struggle between his enduring love for his wife and his burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend, his decimating bouts with epilepsy, his incredible talent and all consuming performances with Joy Division. The winner of more than 25 awards internationally.

Africa Unite documents the 2005 celebration of what would have been the sixtieth birthday of reggae musician and international icon Bob Marley. His extensive family take a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a huge tribute concert is taking place. More than just a concert recording, the film is also a loving portrait of an extraordinary family, and an introduction to the Africa Unite movement, which aims to bring together and encourage new generations of Africans to follow the inspirational message of the great man.

Knowledge Is The Beginning tells the story of West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, established by conductor Daniel Barenboim and intellectual Edward Said. The Orchestra brings together young musicians from Israel, Palestine and beyond to talk, live and make music together. We follow the Orchestra over seven years, culminating in a performance in Ramallah, where breathtaking logistics allow Jewish and Palestinian participants to come together. This perfectly-pitched film is the story of a dream in progress, and a tribute to the thoughtful and committed Barenboim.

Akekho Ugogo (Grandma’s Not Home) traces the clubbing and kwaito scene in Durban and shows that for many upwardly mobile young people in Durban, clubbing offers the only and simplest form of escapism; clubbing almost becomes a religion, a place where people can articulate their individuality. Out of this scene has emerged a music subgenre called Durban Kwaito Music. Filled with controversial lyrics, this music is taking over the country and creating a prominent entertainment industry in Durban.

Principal screening venues of DIFF 2008 are Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; Nu-Metro Cinecentre-Suncoast; Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau - Gateway; Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; Kwasuka Theatre, and the BAT Centre, with further screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent, and a special programme of screenings at Luthuli Museum on the North Coast.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. 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, SABC, HIVOS, Royal Netherlands Embassy, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Stichting Doen, the German Embassy in South Africa, Goethe Institute of South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation, and the City of Durban, with valued support from a range of other partners.




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