Cape film wins big in Durban

2009-08-03 00:00

THE Taiwanese film, No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti, which tells the story of a marginalised father fighting for parental rights, was named Best Film at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (Diff), but the biggest winner of the night was the South African film Shirley Adams.

Directed by first-time film-maker Oliver Hermanus, the film walked off with the gongs for Best South African Film, Best First-Time Feature Film and Best Actress for Denise Newman. In addition, Hermanus, who also wrote the screenplay, received cash prizes of R10 000 each for winning the two film categories.

The jury members given the task of choosing this year’s main awards — Tunde Kelanie (Nigeria), Cheick Oumar (Mali), Rosie Tebogo Motene (SA) and Gert Jan Zuilhof (The Netherlands) — described the film as a South African masterpiece, adding: “Through a meticulously observed minimalism, the film tackles numerous relevant social issues with both subtlety and a mature sensitivity.

“Its themes of love, human endurance and forgiveness are universal and give it audience appeal both locally and abroad.”

Shirley Adams is set in Mitchell’s Plain and tells the story of a woman, Shirley Adams, whose husband has abandoned her and whose son has been partially paralysed after being shot in the neck walking home from school. Adams spends the days of her frugal existence looking after her son and receiving occasional visits from friends and a young social worker.

Hermanus, who studied film, media and visual studies at the University of Cape Town and recently completed a masters in film-making at the London Film School, was overwhelmed by the film’s success. “Making this film and showing it has been an amazing experience,” he said.

The prize for the Best Director went to Frenchman Philippe Lioret for his film Welcome, which reveals the brutal reality of immigration. The Best Actor prize went to the film’s star, Firat Ayverdi.

The award for Best Cinematography went to Ole Bratt Birkeland for the UK/Ireland co-production Helen, with the Best Screenplay gong going to Ruwanthie de Chickera and Uberto Pasolini for the German/Italian/Sri Lankan film Machan.

In the documentary film category, the prize for the Best Documentary went to Emma Franz for Intangible Asset No. 82, which explores the journey of a jazz drummer determined to meet a shaman and grandmaster musician. The award for the Best South African Documentary went to The Silver Fez, directed by Lloyd Ross, which tells the story of the duel between two men for a coveted music prize.

The Spanish film A Better Life, a tale of immigrant smuggling on the U.S./Mexixo border, won the Best Short Film award; and the Australian surfing film Musica Surfica, won the Audience Award in the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival.

The Amnesty International Durban human rights award went to Rough Aunties, a documentary directed by Kim Longinotto about Amanzimtoti-based NGO Operation Bobbi Bear, and its workers, who rescue and rehabilitate victims of abuse and pursue the perpetrators to bring them to justice.

There were also special jury mentions for the child actors of Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), directed by Durban-based Madoda Mcayiyana; the documentaries Sea Point Days directed by Francois Verster, and Nollywood Babylon directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal; and the South African short film Miss Sgodiphola, directed by Andy Kasrils.

Peter Rorvik, of the Centre for Creative Arts, said this year’s festival — the 30th — was the most successful to date, adding: “I am pleased to say that attendances have been fantastic. Last year 19 000 people attended the festival and workshops and this year, up to tonight, 21 000 people have attended.”

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