The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) this year includes the innovative New Crowned Hope series of films which were part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Mozart in 2006.
Taking a highly original approach, and rather than re-presenting Mozart’s own works, project director Peter Sellars commissioned completely new works from contemporary, international artists in the fields of music, theatre, dance, architecture, the visual arts, and film. The commissions are not about Mozart the man, nor use his music.
Instead, the aim of the New Crowned Hope festival was to use Mozart’s themes as both inspiration and springboard for contemporary works reflecting on issues at the heart of this new century. The commissions are inspired by and explore the deeper issues that Mozart miraculously treated in the three great works from the last year of his life: The Magic Flute, La clemenza di Tito and The Requiem. Among these themes are those of magic and transformation, forgiveness and reconciliation, and recognition of the dead.
These issues make Mozart’s work so crucially relevant to our moment in history. Mozart in his own time exemplified the ability to envision and prepare the future; the New Crowned Hope commissions invited artists of today to do the same.
The New Crowned Hope project contributed substantially to the making of six feature films by directors from different corners of that world: Bahman Ghobadi from Iranian Kurdistan with his film Half Moon, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun from Chad with Darratt, Tsai Ming-Liang from Taiwan with I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone, Garin Nugroho from Indonesia with Opera Jawa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Thailand with Syndromes And A Century and, with her feature debut, Paz Encina from Paraguay with Paraguayan Hammock. In addition, New Crowned Hope has commissioned the short film, Meokgo And The Stick Fighter, from the exciting South African director Teboho Mahlatsi of Yizo-Yizo fame.
As did Mozart, these filmmakers are also seeking new ways in which to describe the changing world and societies in which they find themselves. All are seeking to explore new possibilities for cinema.
Simon Field, co-director of the film programme for New Crowned Hope, comments: “We are very happy indeed that the first presentation of the New Crowned Hope programme of film commissions on the African continent should be in South Africa and at the important Durban International Film Festival.
“This is partly because the series includes in its commissions a remarkable film by the very original young South African director Teboho Mahlatsi. But it is even more because the New Crowned Hope project conceived by the opera
and theatre director Peter Sellars took as one of its inspirations the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation that was present in Mozart’s work but that was made such an imperative and contemporary an idea for our 21st century world by South Africa and its courageous leaders.”
The DIFF runs from 20 June to 1 July – the full festival programme will be announced at the end of May. Visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za for more information.