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7th Edition of Ugu Film Festival to focus on strides made by female filmmakers

7th Edition of Ugu Film Festival to focus on strides made by female filmmakers in a special “Through the Lenses of South African Women” theme

 Bright lights and action set for KZN South Coast as countdown to Ugu Film Festival gets underway


The award winning Ugu Film Festival hosted by Sollywood Films in partnership with The National Film and Video Foundation as well as Ugu South Coast Tourism, is back with a bigger and better programme which will run from Friday 24th – Sunday 26th January 2020 at the Margate Hotel in Port Shepstone.  The festival’s prominent community outreach feature will be held at Izingolweni also in the South Coast. The only event of its kind in the district, the festival provides a vital local film development platform giving aspirant and up and coming filmmakers an opportunity to not only gain expert insight and exposure on the value chain of the industry, but also a chance to showcase their craft to potential investors, film enthusiasts and media.

Opening on the 24th of January with a special screening of an award winning South African film titled Uncovered, directed by Zuko Nodada, the 7th edition of the Ugu Film Festival will run a programme with a special focus on female filmmakers dubbed Through the Lenses of South African Women.

Uncovered is a film about a young driven, intelligent Aluta Ndlovu whose ambition to become CEO of a mining company (Shift Inc) clouds her judgment when her journalist sister Pumla Ndlovu informs her about possible corruption. Out of the blue, Frank Drake (Aluta’s boss) wants to sell a worthless mine to the people of Somkhele Village. It is only when Phumla dies that Aluta sees through Frank and figures out what he is up to which drives her to vengeance, not only for her sister’s death but also her people and her own life.

The festival’s headliner will be Durban filmmaker Claire Angelique’s ground-breaking second feature film Palace of Bone. Claire won the award for Young Artist of the Year (Film) for her feature debut My Black Little Heart at the National Arts Festival in 2010. With her prize money she financed this micro budget thriller about a girl who goes on a killing spree of all those who did her wrong.  The film premiered at the 2011 National Arts Festival where eminent art critic Mary Corrigall selected the film as number 3 in her cultural highlights of the year.

 “I am very excited by the support the festival continues to receive from its partners, particularly the National Film and Video Foundation and Ugu South Coast Tourism. Through such backing we can continue with our objective which is to empower both the youth and female filmmakers from our disadvantaged communities, opening the doors needed for them to successfully pursue their careers,” says Senzo Zindela, Founder and Executive Director of the Ugu Film Festival.

Local economy and tourism development

The event has become a significant contributor to the development of the local economy and tourism sector as the South Coast, known as KwaZulu-Natal’s paradise, is a firm favorite among tourists and with the emergence of the local film industry, is well on its way to becoming a sought after film destination as international crews continue to take a keen interest in the district.


“We are very excited that the KZN South Coast will set the stage for the 7th edition of the Ugu Film Festival – one of our flagship tourism events,” said CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu. “The area is fast becoming a key destination for both local and international feature films and wildlife documentaries, benefitting those in the industry as well as our local tourism establishments. The 2020 festival boasts an impressive line-up and we are looking forward to another fantastic KZN South Coast event.”


The festival menu will also feature Palace of Bones, written and directed by Claire Angelique This daring filmmaker turns the culture of self-documentation on itself in this unique feature film which plots a documenter’s attempt to discover the truth about a young woman she has filmed, who was alleged to have killed several people. In essence, the film is a retrospective view of footage re-edited by its creator, an amateur who hides behind the lens of a camera. She is an invisible witness who despite her scrutinising gaze was unable to really come to grips with the action she captured, the truth. In this way the apparatus she was using to see was the impediment to seeing. Palace of Bones is a sophisticated and layered ‘indie whodunit’ that probes a debased and immoral society, where drug dealers marvel at the corruptible nature of the police.

Zulu Return by KZN filmmaker Gugulethu is a fascinating documentation of American rap artist Afrika Bambaata, coming to South Africa to find his perceived African roots. The rap singer’s sometimes murky history in the music industry is not avoided and Gugulethu’s wonderful style takes the viewer on a fascinating journey sprinkled with sangomas, the ancestors and colonial history.

Nicole Schafer’s Budhha In Africa is already creating a stir after screenings at Encounters Documentary Festival and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) where it garnered awards at both locations. Documenting a Chinese Buddhist academy in Malawi where the methods are sometimes highly questionable and the issues of colonialism come up loud and clear. The director observes all these permutations with a distant but incisive eye. The film is up for consideration as a South African entry into the Oscar competition.

Robin Burke’s Spookie Kom Huis Toe was premiered at DIFF in 2019. The young Pretoria director looks at her history as an Afrikaner with a critical and highly experimental eye. Already causing sometimes trenchant debate within the Afrikaans community, the film is a brave and unique statement.

Cape Town filmmaker Uma Martinez’s independent short production Forest Drive is a structurally complex examination of death, loss and complicity that takes the breath away with its stylistic audacity. Martinez, a PHD in geological surveying brings a very different eye to the filmmaking process.

“The impact of the festival over the years has been highly significant. It has changed perspectives, promoted South Coast as a film destination of choice, inspired emerging filmmakers and creative individuals to pursue and start film businesses, furthermore it has awakened local authorities to take film business seriously as they are putting by-laws in place and establishing film offices. This initiative has attracted several institutions to undertake research in the district,” adds Senzo Zindela.

Besides the plethora of films, aspiring filmmakers and participants can look forward to engaging and gaining skills from amongst others award-winning South African actor Menzi Ngubane (Kwakhala Nyonini, Generations, Isibaya), international star Simon Kook who continues to mesmerize the global film industry with his action films, Peter Pham from Vietnam, Patrick Garcia from Act Films and Gavin Potter (film music scorer). The communities based in the surrounding areas will be offered opportunities to learn about filmmaking, furthermore enjoy the films that have been scheduled to screen through the Outreach Programme the festival has planned.

For the full festival schedule, visit

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