Since its early years, the Durban International Film Festival (taking place July 13 to 23 this year) has had an intimate relationship with German cinema, showcasing the more avant-garde side of German film and providing the African premiere of many important titles.
In recent years, the festival has also had a close relationship with the German film industry, through its partnership with the Berlinale’s Talens programme and with numerous German delegates attending the Durban FilmMart. Following on from a focus on New German Cinema in 2007, which marked the inauguration of the Durban Talents programme, this year’s edition of DIFF offers a fresh take on contemporary German Film. The selection, curated by Alex Moussa Sawadogo and supported by the Goethe Institut, provides an accessible but thought-provoking cross-section of one of the world’s most important national cinemas.
Fukushima, Mon Amour, from the talented Doris Dörrie, takes place in the evacuated exclusion zone of Fukushima where an older geisha has returned to her home in the company of a young German woman who has travelled to the area with a foreign aid organisation. Shot on-site, in the aftermath of the nuclear meltdown and the tsunami that caused it, Fukushima, Mon Amour is remarkable for its fusion of fiction and reality and the way that it tenderly holds the one inside of the other. There are shades of cultural clichés in both women and in the relationship that develops between them but they are the kind of clichés that are grounded in real life and are not the reductionist stereotypes that occupy so many films that deal with culture clashes. Located firmly within the great tradition of cinema, with its nod to Alan Resnais’ similarly titled masterpiece, Dörrie’s film nonetheless feels fresh and vital. Fukushima, Mon Amour is another beautifully judged addition to the director’s body of work.