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Durban Fest: From Nigeria to Iran

Durban, 26 July: Day 2

The miserable weather is busy getting the better of me as I spent most of the day in bed.
As I am in Durban for the film festival at great expense, I dragged myself out of bed for the night's delights.
I planned to see Dog Sweat at 22:00, but decided to rather skip that.
The two films that were shown tonight are both in competition and both are good - one is exceptional, in fact.
It's good to see young African directors at the festival and Andrew Dosunmu, director of Restless City, is proud to bring his film to KZN.
The film, that premiered at Sundance, is a dark crime thriller about Africans who are in self-exile in Harlem.
The setting could have been any world city, but as the director is staying in the Big Apple, Harlem was chosen.
He told the audence during the Q&A that Durban is the first screening outside the US as he believes Africa is his audience.
The film tells the story of Djibril, a young African musician from Dakar struggling to survive in the the USA.
The film boasts great performances from young actors, cinematography from Bradford Young, a young student, and a brilliant score from a South African composer.
The film has a French feel to it, especially with the use of accordions in the music.
I was stunned when the director told the packed house that the film cost only $80 000 to make!
It was pouring outside, but inside the theatre it was warm and cosy - just like cinema should be.
The highlight tonight was the masterful Nader and Simin, a seperation.
This Iranian film cleaned up in Berlin with awards for best film and best actor and actress. The film shows a family's break-up after the wife (Simin) wants to leave Iran to raise her child somehere else.
The husband (Nader) is stuck as he has to look after his elderly sick father.
The pace is frenetic, the acting superb with fast, intelligent dialogue and the cinematography outstanding with a mix of close-ups and lingering shots.
I was brought to tears in the film when I saw how Nader was suffering with his dad's illness. I had to go through that with my father last year and the scene where he just holds his father and cries
is great cinema.
Full marks to the actors. I also congratulate the organisers of the film festival for showing such oustanding films.
I highly recommend this film and hope it will be released to a wider audience. Those who find it difficult to read subtitles will find the film testing as the interaction and dialogue between characters are swift. I give it 9/10.
It has two further screenings at DIFF - 18:00 at Musgrave on 28 July and 20:15 at Suncoast on 29 July.
Unfortunately, the filmmaker was not present as advertised. Maybe he went to Melbourne instead, as the film is also showing at that city's film festival and at the same time.
Day 3 offers two gems - Snow flower and the secret fan and Tom Tykwer's Drei.
I became a fan of Tykwer after watching the macabre Perfume. Drei is his take on open relationships, when a third person enters the life - and bed - of a married couple.
Drei is one of the "flesh films" at DIFF this year with Man at Bath and TheTerrorists also in the programme.
Snow flower is the latest film by Wayne Wang, who made the marvelous Joy Luck Club.

 

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