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Durban Festival to showcase best of south african films

The first quarter of 2005 has been an exceptional period for South African cinema with a number of films achieving international success. Yesterday, which held its world premiere as opening night film at the Durban International Film Festival 2004, was nominated for an Oscar (best foreign language film), U-Carmen EKhayalitsha won the coveted Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and Drum won the Golden Stallion at Fespaco.

The 2005 Durban International Film Festival line-up will include both Mark Dornford-Mays U-Carmen EKhayelitsha, the famous opera Carmen relocated to the township setting of Khayalitsha and shot in Xhosa language, and Drum, which has yet to open on the South African circuit. Directed by Zola Maseko, Drum screens on 24th June at Playhouse Drama, and is the colourful story of Henry Nxumalo (starring Taye Diggs) who worked on the legendary Drum magazine during the fifties.

As a special showcase on the 17th June the festival will present the world premiere of Faiths Corner, which re-unites the Oscar-nominated team of producer Anant Singh, director Darrell James Roodt and actress Leleti Khumalo. This stylistically daring and imaginative film, shot entirely without dialogue, is about a woman and her two young sons begging on the streets of Johannesburg, and her difficulties in combating not only the apathy of the wealthy elite that pass her everyday but also the distrust and anger of the locals.

The South African premiere of Zulu Love Letter, will be the opening event of The Playhouse component of the festival on 19th June. For this second feature, after the excellent, prize-winning Fools, Ramadan Sulemans uncompromising film is set in a democratic South Africa where some wounds are left unhealed. Suleman, producer/writer Bheki Peterson and actress Pamela Nomvete will attend the festival.

The festival also presents the much anticipated In My Country, directed by John Boorman, based on Antjie Krogs Country of my Skull, and starring Samuel Jackson, Juliette Binoche and Menzi Ngubane. Tim Greenes A Boy called Twist is a marvelous transplantation of Dickens classic novel to the streets of Cape Town, while Cape Of Good Hope, directed by Mark Bamford, beautifully interweaves a number of storylines and characters, all revolving around a Cape Town animal rescue shelter. The film includes Eriq Ebouaney of Lumumba fame.

Other South African feature films include Revel Foxs The Flyer, the uplifting coming-of-age tale about a young criminal who is taken off the mean streets and given an opportunity at a better life in the world of high trapeze; and Teddy Matteras Max and Mona, the hilarious slapstick comedy about a village boy and a goat that won the Best First Film prize at FESPACO.
The Videovision Entertainment production Red Dust, with outstanding performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Hilary Swank, is an intense, intelligent thriller that contemplates the effectiveness of the Truth And Reconciliation Commission. The festival also shows Every 26 Seconds and The Man in a Brown Suit , which are both innovative remakes from the popular SABC television series Zero Tolerance; and Homecoming, the Norman Maake-directed story of betrayal and the price of freedom for returning exiles in a post-apartheid South Africa.

34 South is a gentle, humorous film about a road trip that leaves all of its characters changed in ways they could not have been imagined at the trips outset - it is the first feature film to be directed by a black South African woman, Maganthrie Pillay. Completing the South African line-up is the talented Donovan Marshs feature film debut Dollars and White Pipes, a racy story about Cape Town gangland culture.

DIFF 2005 also showcases thirteen selected South African documentary films. The increasing success of documentary films on the mainstream cinema circuits indicates newfound acceptance of the form and the realities of documentary-story-telling.

The moving A Child is a Child (because of other people) is an intimate story of a group of orphaned children in KwaZulu-Natal who come together to record a song about the meaning of family and childhood. Directed by Madoda Ncayiyana and produced by Julie Fredickse of Vuleka Productions, this film affirms the powerful resilience of children and the importance of encouraging self-expression. Members of the cast (the children) will attend the premiere screening on 24 June.

Director Rehad Desais unashamedly passionate and at times controversial multi- award winning film, Born Into Struggle, is a eulogy to his political activist father. Ostensibly a father and son story, the film uses humour and compassion to raise issues pertinent to us all, and does not shy away from issues of misery and poverty facing South Africans under democracy. Nkosi, directed by Lisa Aziz and narrated by Gcina Mhlophe, is the bitter-sweet story of Nkosi Johnson and his role in awakening social and moral responsibility about HIV/AIDS. Deeply poignant is the story of Nkiwe, Ingrid Gavshons documentary about the struggles of a family of young children without parents. DIFF will premiere Karin Slaters Scars, a dramatic inside story on how the Community Peace Project in Khayalitsha handles a difficult and sensitive case. Oberlin-Inanda, directed by Cherif Keita, of Malian descent, is the story of ANC founder John Dube and the connection between Dubes American education in Oberlin and his early struggle for political and economic independence. The festival includes a special screening of this film at Ohlange High School, founded by John Dube in 1900. Also connected to Inanda is the film Home:Malawi by local filmmaker Olmega Mthiyane whose previous film Ikhaya screened at DIFF 2004. The film follows a relatives journey from Inanda to the land of her ancestors in Malawi.

A number of documentaries have music as a central theme. Guardians of the Bow, directed by Roger Lucey, covers the collaboration and subsequent tour of renowned Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, along with talented Angolan musicians Victor Gama and Kituxi from Luanda, through Mozambique to a musical finale at the Awesome Africa festival in Durban. Brown, directed by Kali van der Merwe, is a cross genre, historical and musical documentary focusing on one familys experiences of forced removals from Constantia to the Cape Flats. The music-driven documentary Algemeen Befokte Afrikaans explores the changing identity of 21st century Afrikaans-speakers, black and white, and looks to icons like Karen Zoid, Koos Kombuis, Brasse van die Kaap, Godessa and Fokofpolisiekar for answers about what it means to be Afrikaners in South Africa today. Grietjie van Garies by Odette Geldenhuys, focuses on the extraordinary 77-year old Grietjie Adams from a small town in the Namaqualand, whose songs tell the stories of South Africas history.

In the documentary Taking Back the Waves we see, through the lives of so-called coloured surfer Cass Collier and his parents, fragments of South Africa's political history, within the microcosm of the sport of surfing. Taking Back the Waves is also part of the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival. Rudzani Dzugudas film Awake (Vuwani) explores his struggles between his identity as a modern man and his familys traditional expectations of his role in the clan.
Of special interest for educators, Sink or Swim is a challenging examination of the effects on children of learning in a language that is not their mother tongue, while Bridging the Gap interviews young South African intellectuals about what it means to be a South African, at home or abroad.

Short films are often the first point of entry into filmmaking, and the proliferation of quality South African short films is a positive signal for the local industry.
The festival presents around twenty-five South African short films, with animation comprising being a particularly strong component. Also noteworthy are short films by more established filmmakers such as Rifle Road by Akin Omotoso, who Is on the DIFF International Jury Panel this year. The short films are usually presented in packages, depending on length.

The festival offers a window onto this kaleidoscopic representation of South African films that have emerged in the last year.

The festival is hosted at nine principal venues: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; CinemaScreen Entertainment (CSE) at The Workshop; Nu-Metro CineCentre at SunCoast; Cinema Nouveau at Gateway; The Playhouse (Drama Theatre and Loft Theatre); Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; Stable Theatre in Alice Street, Warwick Junction; and Ster-Kinekor Musgrave. Further screenings take place at tertiary institutions and a range of community venues.

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with principle funding and support from the National Film & Video Foundation, National Lottery Distribution Fund, HIVOS, City of Durban, Stichting Doen, and Ethekwini Municipality.

The full screening programme plus film synopses are available on . More information can be obtained by telephoning the Centre for Creative Arts on 031-2602506 or 2601650.

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