SA girl is top star

2010-08-02 00:00

THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Khomotso Manyaka, who plays the role of Chanda in the South African film Life Above All, was named best actress at the 2010 Durban International Film Festival (Diff).

The international jury, which comprised producers Aihara Hiromi of Japan) and Christoph Thoke of Germany and South African academic, writer and producer Bhekizizwe Peterson, described her performance as “natural and touching”, adding that it movingly portrayed the resilience, determination and integrity of her character.

Oliver Schmitz’s Life Above All, which received a 20-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in France earlier this year, was named this year’s best South African feature film.

Based on Allan Stratton’s best-selling novel Chanda’s Secret, the film tells the story of 12-year-old Chanda, who tries to understand why her world is falling apart.

No name is given to the illness striking down her family as the young girl tries to make sense of secrets and lies as well as social stigma. But little by little the spectre of HIV and Aids emerges.

“It isn’t an Aids movie,” Schmitz says. “It’s a very moving drama about a mother-daughter relationship tested by taboo, illness and lies.”

This year’s best feature film award and the R50 000 prize went to the Iranian film The White Meadows, a poignant political allegory directed by Mohammad Rasoulof.

“The film conjures up a landscape that is visually stunning and intriguing because it is both harsh and beautiful,” the jury said of the movie.

The best first feature film prize went to Peepli Live (India), directed by Anusha Rizvi, which was described by the jury as a film that dealt with serious political issues in a witty and entertaining manner.

Cash prizes of R25 000 and R20 000 were awarded to the winners of the best South African feature film and best first feature film respectively.

This year’s best director was Debra Granik for the American film Winter’s Bone; while the best actor prize went to Sebastian Hiort af Ornäs as Sebbe in Sebbe (Sweden).


IN the documentary and short film categories the prize for best documentary went to the makers of Waste Land (UK/Brazil) — Lucy Walker, Joao Jardim and Karen Harley.

The documentary records Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s journey to the world’s largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro to find liiter pickers from the favelas to help him create portraits from garbage.

Waste Land was also voted audience choice best film by Diff audiences and was awarded the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, which is presented to the documentary film that best reflects human rights issues. The award carries a cash prize of €2 500.

The best South African documentary went to The Cradock Four by David Forbes; the best short film prize went to The Same Old Story (Spain), directed by Jose Luis Montesinos; and the best South African short film award to In A Time Without Love by Mark Strydom.

There were also special jury mentions for Imani (Uganda), directed by Caroline Kamya; Mugabe and the White African (UK), directed by Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson; and The Abyss Boys (South Africa), directed by Jan-Hendrik Beetge.

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