by P Blood
Many metropolitan types around SA like to think Durban is a bit of an ugly cousin from some backwater, whose only friends are mangy stray cats.
However, Durban happens to be the host of the SA’s longest running and largest international film festival. That has to annoy you hipsters that would love to spend 10 solid days running around to different theatres watching art films, one-upping each other about how poncy you can sound talking about the films you sat through.
This year’s festival has 16 South African feature films, 66 with shorts and documentaries, more than any previous year.
The 33rd DIFF boasts so many SA films, that the festival is opening and closing with original home grown productions.
On the 19th of July the opening film is a lot of firsts. It is the first film of the festival, the first public screening of Elelwani, which happens to be the first Venda feature film in Tshivenda, based on the first Tshivenda novel of the same name. It deals with a young woman coming of age and grappling with the clashes of modernity and traditional values. This could possibly become one of those landmark films in African cinema.
Stylistically the film looks amazing, mixing elements of magic with the very real-life story. Not only delivering on the looks department, the film deals with a relevant and poignant story from a unique African perspective of culture verse modern opportunities.
The closing film is a 3D animated film from Triggerfish, Adventures in Zambezia, featuring some Hollywood heavies and American television stars adding their voices to this SA first. The film follows a young country falcon to a bird paradise city called Zambezia and apparently is a tale about that very African idea of ubuntu.
Frankly, it sounds like a flimsy attempt to take the tried and tested storyline of, “heading to the big city to chase your dreams”, and link it to Africa in some way.
A film that doesn’t sound like it has enough substance to entertain adults, Adventures in Zambezia may find kids a tough crowd to please after being fed on the bigger-budgeted American rivals. Questions of why they chose to emulate the American style of computer generated animation spring to mind.
Having already spent hours studying the festival programme, I’ve marked off some of my personal cannot miss films.
Quite a few SA films made the list, one of those is a psychological thriller, and also based on a book of the same name, Sleepers Wake.
Also on the list is a South African buddy cop comedy written by Kagiso Lediga. Blitz Patrollie stars David Kau and Joey Rasdien as the aforementioned buddies, stationed at a forgotten depot in Jo’burg CBD. With that many funny SA comics involved it can’t fail to deliver a couple of laughs.
Documentary-wise, the spectrum is wide and pretty well-covered this year. Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame) has two films in the festival: Light-hearted and revealing, he exposes the world of geek fanboys in, Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, and explores the sometimes underhanded methods of advertisers in the American film and television industry in, The Greatest Film Ever Sold.
A world away, literally and figuratively, we have This IS not a Film by Jafar Panahi. Panahi was banned from making films by the Iranian government, and smuggled this ultimate act of defiance out of Iran on a flash drive, after filming it in his apartment in Tehran where he is under house arrest.
As is usually the case, the Durban International Film Fest is not only featuring films of the artistic and unreleased variety. Documentaries, short films and Wavescape Surf Film Festival are huge parts of the cinephilia that grips Durban every year.
The Short Film Fest is showcasing a ridiculous amount of SA talent and is touted as an insight into the future state of South Africa’s film industry. That, in itself, is pretty exciting.
With 80 feature films, 43 documentary films, 45 short fiction films and 11 Wavescape films, making a total of 175 films being shown in the space of 10 days, it is difficult to see all of the films that pique your interest.
This year, DIFF offers a bit of a solution to the booking problem that was always a bit of work when you had to phone up almost every venue to get tickets.
For the first time it possible to plan and book your entire festival weeks ahead of time. In association with GoingPlaces SA, you can make multi- and block bookings. If the convenience of a one-stop booking service isn’t enough, GoingPlaces SA is also offering incentives like free tickets to the closing film screening, and DIFF t-shirts for booking certain amounts of tickets.
Need to know when and where, what is showing right now? Click here to download the programme.
All you need now is to get your ass down to the Durban, and I feel like I’ve done enough for you already, so make your own travel plans.
Suffering from an inexplicably large ego and ignoring common courtesy, Mr P. Blood indulges his opinions about whatever comes to his cesspool of a mind, and strangely people don’t seem to hate him for it. Making him a writer, of sorts.