39th Durban International Film Festival

DIFF_website_201819 - 29 July 2018

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts Africa’s presents the 39th edition of Africa's premier film event, the Durban International Film Festival.

Arguably the continent’s biggest film event, which attracts both film-lovers and industry representatives from across Africa and beyond,  the DIFF is a ten day celebration of world class cinema which screens new feature, documentary and short films from around the globe with a special focus on African film.  The festival also includes the Wavescape Surf Film Festival as well as important industry initiatives featuring a programme of seminars and workshops with notable industry figures, the 9th Talents Durban (in cooperation with the Berlinale Talents) and the 9th Durban FilmMart co-production market (in partnership with the Durban Film Office).  The festival is a hub for the African film industry and is an unmissable date for both industry representatives and lovers of film.

See  https://durbanfilmfest.co.za/images/DIFF2018/diff-2018-programme.pdf for film details and screening schedules, or follow on Twitter @DIFFest or Facebook on DurbanInternationalFilmFestival.  Advance booking for films to be screened at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre are through Computicket ( www.computicket.com or 0861 915 8000 or at any Checkers Money Market Counter).  Standard tickets are R50, with a student/pensioner price of R25.  Films at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre are as follows:




Frid 20th July       20:00 The State against Nelson Mandela and the others (105 mins) D


Sat 21st July        16:00 The Colour of Wine (70 mins) (D)
20:00 Whispering Truth to Power (88 mins) (D)


Sun 22nd July      16:00 Sisters of the Wilderness   (90 mins) (D)   
18:15 The Silk and the Flame (87 mins) (D)


Tues 24th July      18:00 High Fantasy (74 mins) (D)


Wed 25th July       10:00 Supa Modo (74 mins) (F)   SCHOOL'S PROGRAMME             
18:00 Spell Reel (96 mins) (D)


Thurs 26th July     18:00 Shake Down (72 mins) (D)
20:00 We Could be Heroes (78 mins) (D)


Frid 27th July        18:00 The Silk and the Flame (87 mins) (D)
20:00 The Silence of Others (95 mins) (D)


Sat 28th July         16:00 The Artist & the Pervert (96 mins)   (D)
18:00  Logndagen (78 mins)   (F)


Sun 29th July        16:00 It Must Make Peace (87 mins)   (D)
18:00  Kinshasa Makambo (75 mins) (D)


France, 2018, English, 105 min

Director: Nicolas Champeaux, Gilles Porte
Cinematographer: Gilles Porte
The State Against Mandela and the Others is a documentary based on recently recovered archival recordings of the Rivonia Trial hearings in which ten leaders of the African National Congress were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to overthrow the apartheid system. Although Mandela took centre stage during the historic trial, there were nine others who, like him, faced the death sentence and were subject to pitiless cross-examinations.
The film transports us back into the thick of the courtroom battles and attempts to redress the historic balance by putting Mandela’s comrades centre stage. Using animated charcoal drawings to recreate clashes between the preening prosecutor and the collective accused, along with recent interviews and archival footage, the film includes powerful testimony from the Andrew Mlangeni, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed, Kathrada and Denis Goldberg, and shows how the defendants turned a trial aimed at dealing a knockout blow to the anti-apartheid movement into an indictment of white supremacist rule. The State Against Mandela and the Others is a reminder, says co-director Gilles Porte, “that all great things that happen in this world are achieved collectively.”


South Africa, 2017, English with English subtitles, 70 min
Director: Akin Omotoso
Cinematographer: Kabelo Thathe

The Colour of Wine tells the story of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy through the journey of four black winemakers. Woven through their stories is a cast of colourful characters: winemakers and producers, historians, politicians and converted and still-to-be converted drinkers and tasters, all of whom offer insights into an extraordinary time, casting new light on the birth of democracy in South Africa and the challenges of change.
The film also chronicles the history of wine in the country, which begins with the first white settlers in 1659. But there are two very different views of that history – the first tells of a patchwork of exquisite wine farms and pristine vineyards stretching across the southern slopes of Table Mountain, while the other is the narrative of an industry built on the backs of slaves, restricted and constrained by apartheid regulation, and dominated by a wealthy white minority. The film explores how much has changed in the industry since the dawn of democracy and whether these two narratives can ever be resolved into a single harmonious story. Shot in the vineyards and wine cellars of Stellenbosch, Soweto and New York, the film is also a celebration of wine itself.

South Africa, Netherlands, 2018, English, Sotho and IsiZulu, 88 min
Director: Shameela Seedat 
Cinematographer: François Verster
In this engaging documentary, filmmaker and human rights lawyer Shameela Seedat tracks Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s first female Public Protector, as she builds her second case against the country’s President, Jacob Zuma. Despite having to deal with allegations of spying, humiliation in parliament, and numerous death threats, Madonsela had already forced Zuma to return public money unlawfully spent on the construction of his private home. Now, in her final year in office, she attempts to prove that the President is allowing business partners of his son, Duduzane, to systematically take over government in order to secure massive financial gain. The film ask important questions about fighting government corruption while the moral crime of inequality in South Africa remains ongoing and generates far less concern in the media. Whispering Truth to Power is an insightful portrait of a remarkable woman who has devoted her life to public office and defending justice in an increasingly conflicted and divided country.


United Kingdom, South Africa, 2018, IsiZulu and English with English subtitles, 90 min
Director: Karin Slater
Cinematographer: Karin Slater

Set in South Africa’s iMfolozi game reserve – the oldest game park on the continent – Sisters of the Wilderness tells the story of five young Zulu women from underprivileged backgrounds going into the wilderness for the first time in their lives on a journey of self-discovery. Part wildlife documentary, part pilgrimage, director Karen Slater follows the five women on their adventures and documents the personal healing that takes place.
Protected by a pair of rangers and overseen by a motherly guide, they learn about animal behaviour, their Zulu ancestry and the importance of conservation. At the same time, access to ancestral lands is called into question, and airtime is given to the open-cast coal mining that is expanding along the park’s border, as well as the massive toll of rhino poaching. Crucially, no solutions are offered; instead, the beautifully filmed wilderness of iMfolozi is left to speak for itself.
Sisters of the Wilderness is an astonishing film, all the more so since Slater did it all by herself, carrying her own equipment, and shooting and recording the film in a single week, with the only non-natural lighting used in the film being headlamps in the dark.


United States, 2018, Mandarin and English, 87 min
Director: Jordan Schiele
Cinematographer: Jordan Schiele

The Silk and the Flame chronicles the journey of a man named Yao from Beijing to his family home in the provinces for the Chinese New Year. Nearing forty and still single, Yao returns to visit his deaf-mute mother and invalid father, whose dying wish is to see his son wedded to the right woman and starting a family of his own. However, Yao, a closeted homosexual, would prefer to find the right man. Ever the dutiful son, he finds himself sacrificing his own needs in order to fulfill their expectations.
The film provides an intimate look familial bonds, traditional values and the pressure to conform in everyday life in China, where the economic boom of the cities stands in stark contrast to the poverty experienced by those living in the countryside. Director Jordan Schiele uses stark black-and-white photography to provide a fascinating and nuances narrative that reveals how deeply entrenched the Confucian values that shape Chinese society are, as well as documenting the legacy of the social tumult of the twentieth century and the family’s own battle with the simple means of communication that most of us take for granted.

South Africa, 2017, English with English subtitles, 74 min
Director: Jenna Bass
Screenplay: Jenna Bass, Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser
Cinematographer: Francesca Michel, Jenna Bass, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser, Nala Khumalo, Qondiswa James
Cast: Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser, Francois Immelman, Jenna Bass
This second feature from director Jenna Bass, who won best film at DIFF in 2016, tells the story of four friends who go on a camping trip to an isolated farm in South Africa’s Northern Cape. The farm is owned by Lexi’s (Francesca Michel) family, and she’s invited her two best friends, the politically radical Xoli (Qondiswa James) and the happy-go-lucky Tatiana (Liza Scholtz). Without telling the others, she has also invited a new male friend, Thami (Nala Khumalo), whose chauvinistic attitude immediately puts the three young women on edge. As the sun bakes down on their campsite, the friends do their best to get along and survive the weekend together.
But the next morning when they wake up, all four of them have swapped bodies. Their reactions vary from horror to disgust to glee, but one thing is agreed: they can’t go home like this. They’ll just have to get along long enough to find a solution. But tensions mount swiftly as conflicts from the past return in force, and things that have been left unsaid are suddenly blurted out. The stage is set for comedy to turn to tragedy, as the fantasy of the Rainbow Nation becomes a painful awakening.

Germany, Kenya, 2018, English, Kikuyu, Swahili with English subtitles, 74 min
Director: Likarion Wainaina
Screenplay: Mugambi Nthiga, Silas Miami, Wanjeri Gakura, Kamau Wandung'u
Cinematographer: Enos Olik
Cast: Stycie Waweru, Marrianne Nungo, Nyawara Ndambia, Johnson Fish Chege, Humphrey Maina, Joseph Omari, Rita Njenga, Dinah Githinji
Supa Modo is the latest collaboration from the One Fine Day Films (Germany) and Ginger Ink (Kenya), whose edgy, idiosyncratic and warmly spirited films (including Nairobi Half Life and Soul Boy) are always well received at the festival. With director Likarion Wainaina at the helm, we are introduced to Jo, a witty 9-year-old girl who loves action films and dreams of being a superhero. However, Jo is terminally ill and instead of flying through the sky and battling crime, she is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life.  Her only comfort during these dull times is her superhero dream – a dream which her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, her overprotective mother Kathryn – and indeed the entire village of Maweni – think they can fulfil with a little inspired genius. This moving drama was created as part of a master class hosted by the German-Kenyan production cooperative and is a moving tribute to the power of collective imagination and the connectedness of small communities.


Germany, Portugal, France, Guinea-Bissau, 2017, Portuguese, English, French and Fulani, 96 min
Director: Filipa César
Cinematographer: Jenny Lou Ziegel
The image in the film is in black and white, upside down, projected into a black box that then becomes the frame. It hovers like a time capsule near a man’s face. He looks down, listening in on a female guerrilla fighter and translating her words from Fulani. A 16-mm film glides through the man’s hands and is transferred to a laptop screen frame by frame.
In 2011, an archive of film and audio material re-emerged in Guinea-Bissau. On the verge of complete deterioration, the recovered footage testifies to the birth of Guinean cinema as part of the decolonising vision of Amílcar Cabral, the liberation leader who was assassinated in 1973. In collaboration with Guinean filmmakers Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes, as well as many allies, director Filipa César imagines a journey in which the fragile matter from the past operates as a visionary prism of shrapnel through which to view the present. Digitised in Berlin, and screened with live commentary, the archive evokes debates, storytelling, and forecasts about the future. From isolated villages in Guinea-Bissau to European capitals, the silent reels have become the place where people search for solutions to a world in crisis.


United States, 2018, English, 72 min
Director: Leilah Weinraub
Cinematographer: Leilah Weinraub

‘Shakedown’ was a series of parties run by African American women in Los Angeles that featured go-go dancers and strip shows for the city’s lesbian underground scene. Inspired by transwoman Mahogany who, as the mother of the scene, presided over queer strip shows and balls in the 1980s, butch lesbian Ronnie Ron created, produced and presented the new shows in which the largely female clientele from slipped dollar notes into lap dancers’ panties while celebrating lesbian sexuality to pulsating hip-hop beats.
Filmed by director Leilah Weinraub in the lo-fi vibe of the early 2000s every weekend the club was open, the film buoyantly and joyfully shares its scintillating, pulsating world. Along with Ronnie Ron and Mahogany, two Shakedown Angels named Egypt and Jazmine rapturously guide viewers through the club's many ups and downs. A document in the true sense of the word, Shakedown’s key strength is that it is made by someone who was at the centre of the scene, rather than a spectator looking in.

Denmark, Morocco, Tunisia, Brazil, 2018, Arabic, 79 min
Director: Hind Bensari 
Cinematographer: Lilia Sellami
We Could Be Heroes tells the story of Moroccan Paralympian Azzedine Nouiri, a two-time seated shot put gold medalist. When Nouri brings the 2012 London Paralympic gold medal and world record home to Morocco amid wild fanfare, he assumes that his life is about to change and that his achievement will improve financial and athletic support from the government. Instead, he's immediately forgotten and denied the salary, social care and access to the city's stadium that his gold medal performance promised.
As he prepares for Rio 2016, Azzedine's goals shift. He's no longer looking for the longest throw, but to overthrow the system that keeps athletes with different abilities marginalized as destitute second-class citizens. Taking a novice shot putter under his wing and training him as his successor, Azzedine is inspired to contest his sports federation in increasingly public ways and demand respect and equal rights. We Could Be Heroes records the highs and lows of life and sport, mentorship and friendship, and what a personal best truly looks like.


United States, Spain, 2018, Spanish with English subtitles, 95 min
Director: Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar
Cinematographer: Almudena Carracedo 

The Silence of Others reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day after parliament passed a general amnesty law in 1977 prohibiting the prosecution of any crimes committed by Franco's dictatorship. While Chile and South Africa formed truth and reconciliation committees to face their human rights violations, Spain’s imposed near-total historical amnesia, resulting in a country that is still radically divided four decades into democracy. The film follows a band of courageous survivors who launch the groundbreaking Argentine Lawsuit, a case against Franco conspirators based on international human rights laws and filed in Buenos Aires.
Seven years in the making, The Silence of Others is the second documentary feature from Emmy-winning filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar (Made in LA). Executive produced by the Almodóvar brothers and winner of the 2018 Berlinale Panorama Audience Award, this rousing testimonial reveals not only how deeply the past can scar, but how willingly it is forgotten.

Germany, 2017, English and German with English subtitles, 96 min
Director: Beatrice Behn, René Gebhardt
Cinematographer: Beatrice Behn, René Gebhardt, Antje Wilms, Henriette Rodenwald

Georg Friedrich Haas is arguably the most important living composer of symphonic music, but also a
descendant of a Nazi family. His wife Mollena, whom he met through the dating site OkCupid is a
renowned American kinky sex educator and descendant of African slaves. Together, they have lived in a public kinky relationship for 40 years: She is his 'slave' and muse, he is her master – a combination that pushes many people’s buttons and touches on matters of race, sexuality, politics and power relations. The Artist & the Pervert documents their lives, moving between notions of perversion, art, love and radical self-determination.

The Artist & The Pervert is a movie about the relationship of an African-American woman and a White European man, about BDSM and new music, about racism and sexuality, politics and power structures, prejudices and the distorted awareness of others. But it is also about self-acceptance and partnership, dedication and passion, art and life, feminism and self-determination. And above all, it’s a movie about love.

Sweden, Iran, 2017, Persian with English subtitles, 78 min
Director: Yaghoob Keshavarz Sarkar 
Screenplay: Yaghoob Keshavarz Sarkar
Cinematographer: Arantxa Hurtado
Cast: Roya Bamzar, Yaghoob Keshavarz Sarkar

Iranian couple Leily and Mahyar move to Sweden so that Leily can pursue her graduate degree. Faced with both culture shock and the language barrier, Mahyar finds himself struggling to get work with his engineering background and settles for a newspaper delivery job.
Leily, meanwhile, is thriving in her studies but realises that the recent changes are taking a toll on their relationship. Eventually, the conflicts build to a fever-pitch around trivial matters such as meatballs and Facebook, and several misunderstandings change the course of their relationship. But will it survive?


Canada, Mali, 2017, Bambara with English subtitles, 87 min
Director: Paul R. Chandler, Brian David Melnyk
Cinematographer: Brian David Melnyk

The rich, vibrant culture of Mali has long been under threat, particularly in recent years. It Must Make Peace gives voice to Mali's musicians and artists, exploring the threats they face while celebrating the diverse and breathtaking artistry that weaves together the country’s intricate social fabric. Told through the captivating stories of musicians and artists, both young and old, the film provides an engaging account of how the West African nation is striving to preserve its music and deep cultural roots in the face of poverty, conflict and the influences of the West.
Winding South from the Northern nomadic tribes of the Saharan Desert through the ancient religious centre of Djenné to the traditional fishing village of Markala and the chaotic capital of Bamako nestled on the banks of the Niger, the film documents how Mali's artists express and records their diverse traditions and the integral role they play in cultivating and maintaining peace.


Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, 2018, Lingala with English subtitles, 75 min
Director: Dieudo Hamadi 
Cinematographer: Dieudo Hamadi
In January 2015, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, sought a constitutional amendment that would allow him to be elected president for a third time. This film documents the resulting demonstrations and follows three men who are part of the resistance. Ben, who lives in exile in New York, takes the advice of his fellow countrymen in exile and decides to join the struggle in the Congo. Jean Marie, who has just been released from prison, continues his public campaign for his country’s freedom and is persecuted by the secret service. Christian fights unperturbed in the streets of Kinshasa, even after former Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi, on whom the opposition had pinned their hopes, dies and the movement against Kabila’s extension of his time in office seems paralysed.
Kinshasa Makambo immerses us in the combat these three activists are engaged in, a combat that neither bullets nor prison nor exile seem able to stop. This compelling doccie, the fourth feature film from celebrated Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi, earn him the True Vision award at this year’s True/False film festival for advancing the art of nonfiction cinema.


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