Life, love and everything else

2009-07-27 00:00

WHETHER you’re after movies with an environmental message, the best of French cinema, or films with a Bollywood vibe, the Durban International Film Festival (Diff) has something to delight.

Craid and Damon Foster have two films at the Diff this year — Ice Man, about Lewis Pugh, who conducts long-distance swims in the Arctic and Antarctic to highlight the perils of the melting ice caps, and The Nature Of Life, which addresses climate change from an African perspective and showcases innovative local solutions to the environmental crisis.

Another environmental must-see is Saving Luna, a short film about a baby killer whale who gets separated from his family on the wild coast of Vancouver Island and then makes friends with the local human population — an insightful look at the ethical dilemmas of bridging the gap between species.

Other films to watch include Canadian filmmaker Shannon Walsh’s H2Oil, which exposes the desecration of Alberta’s boreal forest; Poison Fire, the story of how oil companies are endangering lives through uncontained gas emissions and oil spills in Niger; and The Lake, which is about a disappearing lake in Iran,

Among the many Indian films being screened during the festival are Nandita Das’s directorial debut, Firaaq, a powerful condemnation of religious violence; The Damned Rain by Satish Manwar, a stirring film about Indian farmers driven to suicide by debts and drought; and the hilarious Tamil western Quick Gun Murugan, starring Dr Rajendra Prasad.

Alongside these striking new talents, the festival will present Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram, a politically-charged and poetic film, and Rituparno Ghosh’s After Words, which looks at the troubled relationship between a reckless poet and his anxious wife.

If you’re a fan of French cinema then don’t miss Laurent Cantet’s The Class, winner of the Cannes Palmes d’Or, and a well-crafted drama which presents a fresh look at culture and ethnicity.

Other must-sees include Anne Fontaine’s period drama Coco Before Chanel, starring Audrey Tautou (Amelie), which tells the story of the legendary designer; Rachid Bouchareb’s London River, a prize-winner in Berlin, which takes a look at two parents from different backgrounds searching for their respective children following the London underground bombings in 2005; Philippe Lioret’s masterful Welcome about Bilal, a young Iraqi refugee who needs to get to London to meet his true love and is determined to swim the Channel to do so; and Julie Delpy’s dark The Countess, in which she plays a legendary countess who is said to have bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her looks.

There are also a number of French co-productions at the Diff, including Three Monkeys by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan; The Absence, a powerful tale of filial responsibility by Mama Këita; the Dardenne brothers’ Lorna’s Silence (Belgium); and the Palestinian films Salt Of This Sea by Annemarie Jacir and Pomegranates and Myrrh by Najwa Najjar.

French co-produced documentaries include Jean-Marie Teno’s Sacred Places, a compelling meditation on art, cinema, identity and popular culture; Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love, which follows the deeply religious star through a traumatic experience, and the enchanting Yandé Codou, The Griot Of Senghor, an intimate profile of a true diva who has travelled through Senegalese history.

• Programme booklets with the full Diff screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. Call 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1650 for further details.

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