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Durban International Film Festival to open with OTELO BURNING

Over 250 screenings will be presented at the 32nd edition of the Durban International Film Festival’s from 21 to 31 July. With principal support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the line-up of films from over 50 countries includes numerous award-winners and premiere screenings, with a core component of the newest South Africa productions.
The festival proudly opens with the World Premiere of a film shot in Durban - Otelo Burning, directed by Sara Blecher. Beginning in the late 1980s, the story is set around youngsters from Lamontville township who discover surfing as an empowering escape from the political violence of the times. Surfing facilitates the shaping of a new culture and lifestyle for them, and this reflects a real process that continues to take place in Durban. Adventures and drama follow. There is romance, rivalry, and tragedy, and, ultimately, choices have to be made. 
The film includes excellent and credible performances by a quartet of talented actors - Thomas Gumede, Sihle Xaba, Jafta Mamabolo and Tsepang Mohlomi. Gumede is a recent winner of a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for lead actor in the drama series A Place Called Home, while Jafta Mamabolo, who plays Otelo, is best known for his role as Young Kunene in Jerusalema, and as Thapelo in the SABC drama series Soul Buddyz. Tshepang Mohlomi won a best supporting actor SAFTA for his performance in Izulu Lami and also appears in At Ellen’s Age (also screening at DIFF 2011). Senior Life Guard on the Durban beachfront, Sihle Xaba is a South African champion body boarder and a surfer who was lead actor in the SATFA award winning drama series Bay of Plenty.  Otelo Burning is to an extent based on Sihle’s own story.  Matthew Oats and Hamilton Dlamini also star in the film.
This superb production is not only a Durban story through and through, but a vindicating fulfillment of local filmmaking potential.
Peter Rorvik, director of the festival, says “It is fantastic to open DIFF with the World Premiere of a story shot here in Durban.  Otelo Burning emerged out of a series of film workshops centred around a public swimming pool in Lamontville township. This rather historic pool survived through the apartheid years and produced many lifeguards now serving Durban beaches. Significantly it also contributed to the growing numbers of black surfers who are adding new dimensions to the surfing culture of our city. This film also celebrates the growing interest in Durban as a filmmaking destination. Sara Blecher, and her crew have done a tremendous job.”
The full programme of film synopses, screening schedules, seminars and workshops is available on For further information email or call +27 (0)31 260 2506/ 260 1816.
The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre For Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, HIVOS, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, French Institute of South Africa, and a range of other valued partners.


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