Looking at tough topics

2008-07-15 00:00

Cinema in all its diversity will once again be celebrated at the 29th Durban International Film Festival, which runs from July 23 to August 3. Featuring more than 200 films from more than 95 countries, spread over more than 300 screenings at 26 venues across the city, the festival will bring together established masters of cinema and new talents from around the world. Along with the presentation of some of the year’s finest films, the festival will run an extensive workshop and seminar programme, giving the region’s aspirant filmmakers an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by some of cinema’s greats.

Opening the festival is the African premiere of Ralph Ziman’s Jerusalema, a gritty gangster thriller set on the harsh streets of Johannesburg. The closing film will be Mike Leigh’s new comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Jerusalema takes a realistic look at crime, corruption and transgression in South Africa. The film chronicles the rise and fall of Luck Kunene (Rapulana Seiphemo), who from a young age always wanted a BMW and a sea view, but coming from a poor family in Soweto, the odds were stacked against him. Hijacking or “affirmative repossession” as it’s called, gives him a glimpse at a brighter world.

Under the banner Love Film, Hate Xenophobia, the festival will present films such as Darrell James Roodt’s Zimbabwe, which looks at the arduous journey a young woman makes from Zimbabwe to South Africa; Penny Woolcock’s Exodus, which imagines a near-future England in which foreigners are incarcerated in a ghetto; the moving Canadian film Family Motel about Somalian refugees; Victims of Our Richness, which dissects the exploitation and brutality experienced by desperate Malian migrants; and a selection of specially commissioned films under the banner Filmmakers Against Racism made specifically about the xenophobic attacks.

Top directors will be represented by their new works, including Gus van Sant (Paranoid Park), Abolfazl Jalili (Hafez), Buddhadeb Dasgupta (The Voyeurs), Atom Egoyan (Adoration), George Clooney (Leatherheads), Santosh Sivan (Before The Rains), Doris Dorrie (Cherry Blossoms — Hanami), Fatih Akin (The Edge Of Heaven), Takeshi Kitano (Glory To The Filmmaker), Jiri Menzel (I Served The King Of England), Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree), Josef Fares (Leo), Bela Tarr (The Man From London), Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely), Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Ploy) and Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light).

Says Nashen Moodley, the Durban International Film Festival’s manager and programmer: “While the selection boasts a number of festival regulars and favourite directors, the very exciting thing about this year’s programme is the large number of new filmmakers represented. The festival of 2008 will be one of discovery: an introduction to and celebration of the next generation of cinematic legends.”

The festival will once again shine a spotlight on the cinema of Africa under the African Perspectives theme, presenting the world premieres of Nothing But The Truth by John Kani, which is based on his popular play; My Black Little Heart by Durban’s Claire Angelique, which is a dark look at Durban’s underbelly; and uMalusi, directed by Mlandu Sikwebu and produced and shot by Jahmil X. T. Qubeka.

Following successful screenings in Toronto and London, the Durban International Film Festival will present the African premiere of Shamim Sarif’s The World Unseen. Other South African films include Land Of Thirst, directed by Meg Rickards and produced by Durban’s Vuleka Productions; the Ugandan-South African co-production Divizionz; The Bird Can’t Fly, a Dutch-South African co-production; the satirical animation Tengers; and Michael Raeburn’s much-anticipated Triomf. There will be feature films, documentaries and shorts, and an Ousmane Sembene Retrospective.

Principal screening venues are the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Nu-Metro Cinecentre at Suncoast, Ster Kinekor at Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau at Gateway, the Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu, the KwaSuka Theatre and the Bat Centre, with further screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent and a special programme of screenings at the Luthuli Museum on the north coast.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket and other outlets. Full festival details can also be found on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or by phoning 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1650.

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