Asian Films at the 29th Durban International Film Festival


23 July to 3 August 2008

GENERAL PRESS RELEASE

Cinema in all its diversity will once again be celebrated at the 29th
Durban International Film Festival which runs from 23 July to 3 August.
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. Alongside the presentation of the some of the
year’s finest films, the festival will run an extensive workshop and
seminar programme giving the regions aspirant filmmakers an opportunity
to learn from and be inspired by some of cinema’s greats.

Opening the festival is the African Premiere of Ralph Ziman’s
Jerusalema, a gritty gangster thriller set on the harsh streets of
Johannesburg. The festival will close with Mike Leigh’s uplifting new
comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky.

The festival will offer an exciting journey into the world of
contemporary cinema with a range of feature films, documentaries and
short films that will not only entertain, but enlighten and inspire.

Festival director Peter Rorvik explains: “The Durban International
Film Festival opens a window on the world, provides access to many
different cultures and provides a space in which the cinematic art form
transcends national boundaries. The recent tragic events in South Africa
give cause to highlight what has long been a central idea of the Durban
International Film Festival: to create understanding and acceptance of
different cultures through the medium of film. A special programme of
films focuses on the issue of xenophobia, and some of its attendant
roots such as racism, migration and poverty.”

Under the banner Love Film, Hate Xenophobia, the festival will present
films such as Darrell James Roodt’s Zimbabwe, which looks at the
arduous journey a young woman makes from Zimbabwe to South Africa; Penny
Woolcock’s Exodus which imagines a near-future England in which
foreigners are incarcerated in a ghetto; the moving Canadian film Family
Motel about Somalian refugees; Victims of Our Richness, which dissects
the exploitation and brutality experienced by desperate Malian migrants;
and a selection of specially commissioned films under the banner
Filmmakers Against Racism made specifically about the xenophobic
attacks.

The selection of films will also see some of the world’s finest and
most critically-acclaimed directors represented by their new works
including Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park), Abolfazl Jalili (Hafez),
Buddhadeb Dasgupta (The Voyeurs), Brillante Mendoza (Slingshot and
Foster Child), Atom Egoyan (Adoration), George Clooney (Leatherheads),
Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Banishment), Santosh Sivan (Before The Rains),
Doris Dorrie (Cherry Blossoms – Hanami), Fatih Akin (The Edge Of
Heaven), Takeshi Kitano (Glory To The Filmmaker), Jiri Menzel (I Served
The King Of England), Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree), Josef Fares (Leo), Bela
Tarr (The Man From London), Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely), Pen-ek
Ratanaruang (Ploy) and Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light).

Says Nashen Moodley, DIFF’s manager and programmer: “While the
selection boasts a number of festival regulars and favourite directors,
the very exciting thing about this year’s programme is the large
number of new filmmakers represented. The festival of 2008 will be one
of discovery: an introduction to and celebration of the next generation
of cinematic legends.”

Films from new directors, many of which are included in the feature
film Competition, include: 57000 KM Between Us by Delphine Kreuter,
Ain’t Scared by Audrey Estrougo, Ballast by Lance Hammer, Captain
Abu Raed by Amin Matalqa, Control by Anton Corbijn, Frozen by Shivajee
Chandrabhushan, Garage by Lenny Abrahamson, Gardens Of The Night by
Damian Harris, A Hero’s Welcome by Brigitte Maria Bertele,
Munyurangabo by Lee Isaac Chung, Seven Days Sunday by Niels Laupert,
Sita Sings The Blues by Nina Paley, and A Song Of Good by Gregory King.

The festival will once again shine a spotlight on the cinema of Africa
under the African Perspectives theme, presenting the World Premieres of
Nothing But The Truth by John Kani, which is based on his popular play;
My Black Little Heart by Durban’s Claire Angelique, a dark look at
Durban’s underbelly; and uMalusi, directed by Mlandu Sikwebu and
produced and shot by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. Following successful screenings
in Toronto and London, DIFF
will present the African Premiere of Shamim Sarif’s The World Unseen.
Other South African films include Land Of Thirst, directed by Meg
Rickards and produced by Durban’s Vuleka Productions; the
Ugandan-South African co-production Divizionz, directed by Yes! That’s
Us; The Bird Can’t Fly, a Dutch-South African co-production directed
by Anna Threes; the satirical animation, Tengers by Michael Rix; Darrell
James Roodt’s Zimbabwe; and Michael Raeburn’s much-anticipated
Triomf, a controversial take on Marlene Van Niekerk’s acclaimed novel.

DIFF gathers together an expressive concentration of 71 South African
films, comprising 10 feature films, 29 documentaries and 32 short films
which indicate the steady growth of filmmaking in this country.
Underscoring the broader African presence of a further 38 films from the
continent will be the Ousmane Sembene Retrospective, a presentation of
all the major works of the late, great father of African cinema.

Other themes and focus areas include New German Cinema, Indian Cinema,
A Focus On Italian Cinema, a selection of a number of films making up
the European Union Film Focus, as well as a series of films on music.
August is Woman’s Month in South Africa, and DIFF is pleased to
present films about women and films made by over forty women directors,
including, amongst others, 3 Women by Manjeh Hekmat and Unfinished
Stories by Pouraya Azarbayjani, both set in Iran; Sundance Grand Jury
Prize winner Frozen River by Courtney Hunt about two single mothers; a
Palestinian woman’s struggle against Israeli paranoia and bureaucracy
in Lemon Tree; Lucy Walker’s Blindsight about six blind Tibetan
students climbing Mount Everest; Stephanie Black’s compelling
unpacking of Bob Marley’s message in Africa Unite ;  and the world
premiere of Karen Slater’s 50 Years of Love which addresses the
institution of marriage and its relevance in today’s society.

The very popular Wavescapes Surf Film Festival returns to DIFF with
ripping hot surf screen action, which is the next best thing to being in
the tube itself. Wavescapes is based at the KwaSuka Theatre, with the
now-legendary outdoor screening at the Bay of Plenty Lawns on 27 July
launching Wavescapes with the film Highwater. Wavescapes, in partnership
with Save Our Seas, will also screen Shark Angels and closing film
Sharkwater, both films concerned with shark conservation. A special
pre-fest screening of Bustin’ Down The Door with renowned surfing hero
Shaun Tomson in attendance takes place on 3rd July at NuMetro Pavilion.

An especially strong documentary selection at the festival includes a
focus on environmental and economic issues. A highlight is Lisa
Merton’s Taking Root – The Vision of Wangari Maathai, about the
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Kenyan woman whose campaigning for a green
Kenya drew sometimes vicious response from government. Darfur – War for
Water shows how the war in Darfur is also about water. Also on the theme
of water is Flow: For the Love of Water, which focuses on how water and
not oil is the flagship concern of the future.

As the war in Iraq continues, filmmakers continue to engage with its
repercussions. In his extraordinary, prize-winning Standard Operating
Procedure, Errol Morris presents an examination of the US military
abuses in Abu Ghraib prison. Also featured is the Oscar-winning
documentary Taxi to the Dark Side (South African producer Don Edkins),
and War, Love, God and Madness by Mohamed Al-Daradji, about the
difficulties experienced by the filmmaker when shooting his Oscar
contender Ahlaam in Baghdad in 2004.

John Pilger’s War on Democracy, the 49th documentary by this incisive
investigative journalist, focuses on US involvement in Latin America and
questions whether the War On Terror is actually a War Of Terror, while
The End of Poverty by Philippe Diaz explores how the deliberate actions
of wealthy nations contribute to the creation of poverty.

An exciting increase in South African documentary production includes a
surge of activity in the KZN region. DIFF is screening Durban Poison, an
examination of the Stable Theatre in Durban, the first independent black
theatre in South Africa. KZN filmmaker Omelga Mthiyane will have three
films at DIFF: Flight Of The Dancer, Inanda – My Heritage and she was
also co-director on Between the Mountains and the Sea; while Tiny Mungwe
presents her debut Akekho uGogo. DIFF will also highlight KwaMashu –
Still My Home directed by UK-based Owen ‘Alik’ Shahadah and produced
by Edmond Mhlongo of K-Cap Productions; and Marc le Chat’s Stimela –
The Search for the Missing Chord, produced by Mandle Ndimande.

As the films unspool, a group of young African filmmakers will
participate in Talent Campus Durban, an intensive 5-day programme of
workshops held in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus which
forms part of the Berlin International Film Festival. Under the theme
“Producing African Cinema for a New World”, participants will
benefit from both theoretical and practical approaches that enhance
their cinematographic and creative experience. The overall objective is
to empower a new generation of African filmmakers. In this period of
social unrest wrongly targeting “foreigners” the Talent Campus
Durban, with its 40 participants representing 19 countries, can
demonstrate the art of African collaboration in action and celebrate the
creative strength of diversity.

Festival funding partners SABC and National Film and Video Foundation
will maintain a strong participatory presence at BAT Centre where a
packed series of daily free seminars and workshops offer inspirational
opportunities across a range of filmmaking issues.

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 http://www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or by
calling 031 2602506 or 031 2601650. 

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, Industrial Development Corporation, and the City of
Durban, with valued support from a range of other partners.

 

www.cca.ukzn.ac.za

(Poster of the festival from the DIFF website)

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