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Durban Film Festival


Documenting life

28 July: Day 4

Day 4 was filled with very serious movies and a light-hearted Canadian doccie that had its first screening outside North America.
I loved St Henri, the 26th of August, maybe its because of my journalistic background as we're always trying to find these little stories in the community - the hairstylist, the boxer, the shopkeeper. It's candy to the soul.
This Montreal suburb, although it seems ghetto-like, has wonderful characters and the 14 filmmakers did a fine job to follow them all on this one day. The director, Shannon Walsh, present at the screening, told the audience that she is planning something similar for Johannesburg and maybe we'll see that production at DIFF '12.  The film reminded me of Paris J'Taime with its eclectic mix of people.
I always wonder how such films are put together as there must be a lot of planning involved. Do you send the filmmakers into the community to find the characters and get them all to to be filmed on this one day or do you get together on this day and just set them off and let them film whatever they see. I still wanted to ask the director that.  It scores a 9. There are no more screenings of the film at this year's festival.
The two films screened at night were very serious dramas, set in Iran and Kashmir respectively. Although both are well-filmed and give wonderful glimpses in their societies, I did not enjoy them so much.
The Rainy Seasons by Majid Barzegar is set in modern-day Tehran, where teenagers have the same problems as their counterparts in the west. I was under the impression teens in Iran have no access to rock music and western clothing and in this film the main characters could have been in any western city.
The film is slow and initially I thought I was in the wrong cinema! The main character has to cope with his parents' divorce and run from a druglord.
I did not engage with the film and give it a 6. There are no more screenings of the film.
Autumn (Harud) - shown in competition -  gives a fascinating glimpse into war-ravaged Kashmir and the director, Aamir Bashir, did a good job of showing this harrowing state. His film is dark with beautiful photography and interesting characters. The main character, trying to come to terms with the loss of his brother, comes acoss a camera with the last photos of his brother and his girlfriend.
The camera becomes his weapon against the society around him. The film is not for the faint-hearted, but should appeal to those who enjoy dramas. There is another screening at 18:30 on 30 July at Suncoast.
Day 5 will be a mixed bag. I'll kick off with The Source, a battle of the sexes flick, then see th SA film 31 million reasons about a cash transit heist with a Bollywood touch, and end with the Canadian masterpiece, Small town murder songs.
I take my hat off to the people of Durban who come out to support the festival.
I'm sure most do not know how privileged they are to have a festival of this stature in their city, but they support the films. As most of the films do not have big names or Hollywood marketing, they only draw an audience due to their content and mastery.


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