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My annual pilgrimage to the Durban International Film Festival kicked off on 20 July.
I went straight to the media briefing at the Blue Waters Hotel where I chatted to Oliver Hermanus and Deon Lotz, director and star of last year's Beauty. This year Hermanus is part of the international jury and Lotz can be seen in the much anticipated Sleeper's Wake, which is having its world premiere in Durban. Lotz also told me that the film has been accepted for Toronto!
I saw two films on my first day. The first film was the jaw dropping doccie called Vivan las Antipodas which shows what would happen if you would fall through the earth and what would be directly on the other side. Very few countries have this "link" to one another but a few do and the film shows this diversity - Argentina vs Shanghai, Patagonia vs Lake Baikal, Spain vs NZ and Botswana and Hawaii, The photography is spectacular and the contrast mind boggling. Diff 2012 shows great promise when I can award a 10 to the first film I've seen. This film won a major award at the Guadalajara Film Festival and will enthrall. It can be seen again at Nouveau on 25 July.
My second film was The Hunter with Willem Dafoe as a mountain man/
scientist "hunting" the Tasmanian tiger, The film has the feel of a wildlife doccie with a thrilling story attached. I stayed for the q&a with the director David Nettheim where he described shooting the film on an island with four seasons in a day and snow in summer.
The scenery, mix of close ups and sweeping views and clever use of slo-mo and music combined with Dafoes' performance make this a top thriller. I give it a 9. The film has another screenings at Nouveau on 22 and 29 July.
I'm often asked how do I decide what to see and this is a lengthy and complicated process. I've realised you cannot see everything and the race to see as much as possible is futile. That's why you have to plan. I immediately circle the big festival winners and films by favourite directors. Then I try and exclude the films that will come on circuit after the festival. Then I study the catalogue for the oddball and offbeat films that fall
through the cracks. Films in competition are also favoured. Then I try to see where and when everything will be shown and as the venues are all over the city I don't recommend racing from venue to venue after every film but sticking to a venue for a day. As stars are the biggest draw card in Hollywood and they play a very limited role at DIFF, that
doesn"t have much influence on my schedule. Does it sound like rocket science?
Day 2 holds many delights such as Chicken with plums (latest film by the director of the controversial Persopolis) , The Loneliest Planet (a love story set in Georgia and a film in competition) , Las Acacias (South American road movie and Cannes winner) and Shadow Dancer (acclaimed thriller about the IRA).
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