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Durban festivities A (Allen) to Z (Zulu)


The Durban International Film festival is an established international film festival and the largest of its kind in South Africa. This year, two landmark occasions will be celebrated: the 25th Anniversary of the Durban International Film Festival and 10 Years of Democracy in South Africa.

Committed to the exhibition of quality films and innovative programming, the festival is playing a major role in the stimulation of the film industry in KwaZulu-Natal with audience development, industry awareness and training initiatives. The presentation of a wide selection of culturally diverse, cutting-edge and award-winning films from around the world includes the provision of an internationally recognised platform to promote South African film and filmmakers. In a much-improved year of production the 2004 DIFF hosts four world premieres of local feature films.

This includes the ground-breaking Zulu-language film Yesterday , starring Leleti Khumalo, directed by Darrell James Roodt and produced by Anant Singh and Videovision Entertainment. Forgiveness directed by Ian Gabriel, is from the innovative DV8 project, and is a moving examination of betrayal, resolution and revenge that marks a brave new direction for South African cinema. The sci-fi-ish music-drama The Sunflower is another all-KZN production from Marc Wells and DuMarc Studios, whilst the predominantly Afrikaans youth-film Skilpoppe is directed by Andre Odendaal and produced by Penguin Films.

South African premieres of local feature films include Craig Freimond's Gums and Noses about an ad-exec's cocaine lifestyle which is the zany new offering from the production team of Robbie Thorpe, Akin Omotoso and Kgomotso Matsunyane, and, finally making its South African debut, The Wooden Camera , directed by Ntshavheni Wa Luruli. Already the winner of international awards, The Wooden Camera traces the lives of two boys who make choices between a gun and a camera that seal their destinies.

A festival flagship this year is the Project 10 series of documentaries celebrating a decade of democracy, produced by SABC1 and the National Film and Video Foundation in co-operation with the Maurits Binger Institute in Amsterdam, and distributed by Film Resource Unit.

The strong international line-up of films includes Marco Tullio Giordana's Best Of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu) , an award-winning epic which follows an Italian family from the end of the 60s to the present day using the most crucial events and sites of Italy's history as the backdrop. Anything Else, directed by Woody Allen, is a witty romp with Allen in characteristically paranoid form, while the controversial Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier, has Nicole Kidman as a desperate woman on the run from gangsters. Crimson Gold (Talaye Sorgh) directed by Iranian Jafar Panahi (who will attend the festival) won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, and is the poignant story of lonely pizza deliveryman's experience of humiliation. Last Life In The Universe , directed by Thailand's Pen-ek Ratanaruang, is a magic-realist film where two people on the run meet and hide out together, hoping to find love, life and redemption. Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi is a rousing, 19th century samurai tale of an eponymous blind masseur and master gambler. Zatoich i won major awards at the Toronto and Venice film festivals.

The festival will present around 300 screenings, most of these premiere screenings in South Africa. Feature films will be supplemented by topical documentaries and short films. Skills and training, at various levels, are made available through a series of free seminar and workshop programmes, including an intensive 4 day video production workshop for first-time filmmakers run by Audio-Visual Centre (UKZN), workshops with young filmmakers of the MUFIP project at Ekhaya in KwaMashu, and other workshops in partnership with Imagination Lab, Sithengi, AFDA, GDTV, DIT and Stable Theatre. A highlight of the festival is the participatory presence of local and international filmmakers and film industry personalities who make valuable contributions to the festival programmes.

Principal screening venues are the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; CSE at The Workshop; Nu Metro CineCentre at SunCoast; Cinema Nouveau at Gateway; Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; Stable Theatre in Alice Street, plus various tertiary institutions and community venues.

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