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Durban International Film Festival Announces Award Winners for 2014

The Durban International Film Festival announced its award-winners last night at the closing ceremonof the festival’s 35th edition at the Suncoast CineCentre Supernova, prior to the screening of its closing film, Million Dollar Arm. The announcement comes as the festival rounds off a very successful year, with significant increase in attendance with many films screening to sold-out audiences. Festival Manager Peter Machen says of this year’s event: “I was extremely happy with the success of DIFF 2014, and it was very gratifying to witness both the large amount of sold-out screenings and also the huge enthusiasm for the festival, both from local audiences and from the hundreds of guests attending the festival from around the world.”

At the ceremony, the festival unveiled its new statuette, the Golden Giraffe, designed by Durban artist, Caryn Tilbury. Machen said of the new awards: “We are extremely that the festival finally has an iconic award. Venice has the Golden Lion, Berlin has the Golden Bear and now Durban has the Golden Giraffe. Caryn Tilbury’s beautifully idiosyncratic design is perfectly representative of the slick but edgy nature of the festival.” 

At the awards ceremony, the festival’s highest accolade of Best Feature Film went to Malian auteur Abderrahmane Sissako’s masterful Timbuktu, from a selection of competition films that the international jury described as having dealt with “individuals coping with ideological, social and political pressures whilst trying to find their own identity and humanity in a world increasingly under distress.” The Best Feature Film award carries a cash prize of R50 000.

The jury commended Sissako’s film for being “an impressively well-made film that makes us aware, in an extraordinarily human and gentle way, of the fight for dignity and freedom of individuals against oppression and violence. Beautifully crafted and showing mature accomplishment on all levels the film illustrates the absurdity of war and ideological dogmatism and offers humour, gentility and humaneness as a possible solution to the madness that seems to engulf so many regions in the world and on our continent. It embraces cinema as a weapon of love against violence and intolerance.”

The International Jury consisted of: Rémi Bonhomme, who heads Critics Week at Cannes Film Festival; Diarah N’Daw-Spech, the co-founder and co-director of the African Diaspora Film Festival in New York; Andrew Worsdale, writer, director and previous winner of Best South African Feature film at DIFF; and actress and activist Paulina Malefane, known for her role of Carmen in both the stage and film productions of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, and co-founder of the Isango Ensemble.

The award for Best South African Feature Film, which carries a prize of R25 000 went to Jenna Bass’ exciting first feature Love the One You Love. The local jury stated that they chose the film “for its stylistic and narrative freshness”, calling it “a playful, quirky and idiosyncratic debut made with curiosity, warmth, heart and sensitivity.” Bass was also honoured with the prize for Best Direction in a South African Feature Film, with the jury describing the young director as “inquisitive, innovative and with a unique voice and luminous cinematic sensibility, who shows us a contemporary universe which is as imaginative as it is true”.

The accolade for Best Documentary went to Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours.  According to the jury, “This intimate, affecting and often humorous debut feature is a portrait of three generations of exile in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian pocket of hemmed-in buildings and stifled hopes. Fleifel may have set out to tell a small domestic story about the loved ones he has left behind but the result is a powerful tale of the human cost of a political nightmare, the end of which seems very far away.”

Best South African Documentary was awarded to Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down. The film was also awarded the Amnesty International (Durban) Human Rights Award, which carries an award of R10 000 sponsored by the Artists for Human Rights Trust. The film was chosen “for its profoundly moving portrayal of the Marikana miners’ massacre. The human rights abuses so vividly portrayed include the right to life, the right to justice, the right to protection by the police, the right to know, the right to peaceful protest and the right to human dignity.” ­

The full list of awards is as follows:
BEST FEATURE FILM: Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako

BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM: Salvation Army by Abdellah Taia

BEST DIRECTION: Noaz Deshe for White Shadow

BEST SCREENPLAY: Love is Strange written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sofian el Fani - Timbuktu

BEST ACTOR: Ibrahim Ahmed - Timbuktu & Tony Kgoroge - Cold Harbour

BEST ACTRESS: Chi Mhende - Love the One You Love

DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AWARD FOR ARTISTIC BRAVERY: Petter Brunner - My Blind Heart

BEST SA DOCUMENTARY: Miners Shot Down by Rehad Desai

Special Mention: Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me by Khalo Matabane

BEST DIRECTION IN A SOUTH AFRICAN DOCUMENTARY: I, Afrikaner by Annalet Steenkamp

Special Mention: Fatherland by Tarryn Crossman

BEST DOCUMENTARY: A World Not Ours by Mahdi Fleifel

BEST SHORT FILM: Out of Place by Ozan Mermer

BEST SOUTH AFRICAN SHORT FILM: Keys, Money, Phone by Roger Young

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