A variety of movie gems on offer

2010-07-22 00:00

THE 31ST Durban International Film Festival (Diff) kicks off tonight at Suncoast with the world premiere of Khalo­ Matabane’s debut South African­ feature film State of Violence.

The powerful revenge thriller was shot in 30 days, mostly in the poverty- stricken township of Alexandra, five minutes from Sandton, the wealthy heart of Johannesburg.

The contrast between these two worlds — one unbelievably rich and modern, the other almost medieval in its poverty — is a metaphor for a man caught between his past and his present, who grew up in the grinding poverty of Alex, and who now lives the high life in Sandton.

Speaking about the film, Matabane says: “I wanted to explore violence in a way that goes beyond dinner-table discussions and sensational news headlines and soundbytes.

“I wanted to show a portrait of a man who is caught between ideology and family, and decides to choose the former. A man who kills his uncle, who was a traitor during the struggle, and who has to live with himself.

“The film does not judge or offer moral solutions, but rather it intends to provoke and leave an audience to make up their own minds about violence, especially in a world where the marginalised increasingly feel the need to resort to violence as an act of desperation to make themselves heard.

“There are consequences, whatever decision one makes, and this is what the film attempts to deal with and the resolution, like in life, is open-ended.”

State of Violence tells the story of Bobedi (Fana Mokoena), who, when his wife is killed, is forced to go in search of the killer. His search takes him out of his comfort zone in wealthy Sandton and back into Alexandra township, a place of buried memories. When he finds out that the killer is his own cousin, his dead uncle’s son, he is forced to deal with his family that he left behind.

Starring opposite Mokoena is Presley­ Chweneyagae­, famous globally­ for his performance in Tsotsi, who plays the role of Boy-Boy. They are joined by veteran actress Mary Twala, Vusi Kunene, Lindi Matshikiza, Tinah Mnumzana, Harriet Manamela­ and Neo Ntlatleng­.

Including State of Violence — which can be seen at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, on July 24 at 8.30 pm and at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave at 4 pm on August 1 — Diff will present nine world premieres of South African feature­ films, as well as the African premiere of Life, Above All, the recent Cannes Film Festival hit directed by Oliver­ Schmitz (Mapantsula, Hijack Stories).

South African feature films that are making their debut at the festival are Jahmil XT Qubekas’ stylish and original A Small Town Called Descent, starring Vusi Kunene and Hlubi Mboya; Jann Turner’s much-anticipated follow-up to White Wedding, Paradise Stop, which features Rapulana­ Seiphemo and Kenneth Nkosi; the hilarious Attack Of The Indian­ Werewolf by Masood Boomgard; Jyoti Mistry’s striking experimental film The Bull On The Roof (Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit); Regardt van den Bergh’s charming T he Incredible Adventures­ Of Hanna Hoekom (Die Ongelooflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom); the gangland action film Jozi­ Kings by Jonathan Boynton-Lee and Jamie Ramsay; the inspirational Machansa by Muntu Zwane and the quirky romantic comedy Visa/Vie by Elan Gamaker.

In addition to the feature films, there will be 21 South African documentaries and 22 locally made short films.

“The international flavour of the World Cup will be carried through in this year’s Diff,” Peter Rorvik, director of the Centre For Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says, adding that the festival gives people the chance to see films not normally seen on the big screen in South Africa.

Among those films are five classics by the legendary Ingmar Bergman — Smiles Of A Summer’s Night (1955), Wild Strawberries (1957), Winter Light (1963), Cries And Whispers (1973) and Fanny And Alexander (1982).

They will be shown on the big screen as part of a Swedish film segment­ (see Weekend Witness for more on this story).

Other feature film highlights are expected to be Josh Appignanesi’s comedy The Infidel, about  a   British  Muslim  who   discovers that he was born Jewish; Michael Cain’s thriller, Harry Brown; Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck, Jessica­ Alba and Kate Hudson, which looks inside­ the mind of a sadistic killer; and Four Lions by Christopher Morris, a comedy about a group of British men who decide to become suicide bombers to save the family farm.

The Durban International Film Festival runs from tomorro until August 1.


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