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WOMEN AT DIFF (article first published : 2008-07-24)

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.

August is Womanís Month in South Africa, and DIFF is pleased to present films about women and films made by over 40 women directors. These include, amongst others, 3 Women by Manjeh Hekmat, Unfinished Stories by Pouraya Azarbayjani and documentary The Red Card by Mahnaz Afzali. Each of these films, set in Iran, reveal distinct and riveting snapshots of women in crisis. Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner the affecting Frozen River by Courtney Hunt tells about the bond that develops between two single mothers as they struggle desperately to support their families Ė even if it means smuggling illegal immigrants into the USA.

In the subtle and heartbreaking Lemon Tree, starring the great Hiam Abbas (Paradise Now, The Syrian Bride), a Palestinian woman struggles against Israeli paranoia and bureaucracy. Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai by Lisa Merton tells the story of the extraordinary Nobel Prize winner who helped reclaim her countryís land from a century of deforestation while giving marginalised women the tools to participate for the first time in the political processes of their communities, often against brutal opposition from government, corporations and landgrabbers.

Courting Justice by Jane Lipman about the struggles and lives of women judges in South Africa, particularly relevant given the judiciaryís recent prominence in the media. The vibrant and universal South African film The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif makes its South African premiere at DIFF and is story of the love between two women set during 1950s apartheid South Africa.

Amongst the women filmmakers present at DIFF this year are Threes Anna (The Bird Canít Fly) Delphine Kreuter (57000km Between Us), Audrey Estrougo ( Ainít Scared), Meg Richards (Land of Thirst), Stephanie Black (Africa Unite), Jane Lipman (Courting Justice), Claire Angelique (My Little Black Heart), Neasa Ni Chianain (Fairytale of Katmandu), Omelga Mthiyane, Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues), Tiny Mungwe (Akekho uGogo) and more.

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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