Over 200 screenings at venues across the city of Durban and surrounding communities will take place during the landmark 30th Durban International Film Festival (23 July to 2 August). The festival opens with the Durban-produced film, My Secret Sky (Izulu Lami), directed by Madoda Ncayiyana and featuring a wonderful cast of newcomer child actors.
Festival audiences will encounter some of the year’s most eagerly-anticipated films, award-winners from major festivals and world premieres from South Africa and beyond. Woody Allen’s hilarious Whatever Works, which stars Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm ) and Evan Rachel Wood, will close the festival.
Concurrently an extensive programme of free workshops and seminars will prime a new generation of South African filmmakers.
World premieres of South African feature films include Shirley Adams by young director Oliver Hermanus, Long Street , the new film from Revel Fox which features the Durban icon, Busi Mhlongo, and For Better For Worse, Naresh Veeran and Raeesa Mahomed’s charming Durban-set romantic comedy. Also making its premiere at the festival is White Lion, the beautifully shot tale of a young man’s protection of a rare white lion.
Other South African films include Anthony Fabian’s Skin based on the true story of a physically black girl born to white parents in apartheid South Africa, Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace based on JM Coetzee’s award-winning novel, Savo Tufedgzic’s psychological thriller Crime – It’s A Way Of Life , and JJ Van Rensburg’s coming-of-age drama Intonga.
In one of the most talked about films of the year, soccer icon Eric Cantona gives a charming performance in Ken Loach’s hilarious and touching Looking For Eric, which makes it’s African premiere at the festival. An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig from a screenplay by the popular British novelist, Nick Hornby, is a joyous and funny drama. Fresh from its Camera d’Or win in Cannes, Australian Warwick Thornton’s Samson & Delilah also makes its African debut at the festival. Iconic actors Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyate co-star in Rachid Bouchareb’s deeply moving London River, which is set in the aftermath of the terrorist bombings in London. Audrey Tautou (Amelie) gives a star turn in Anne Fontaine’s sumptuous Coco Before Chanel which looks at the life of the fashion legend.
The festival includes films by some of the world’s most prominent directors such as Steven Soderbergh (Che), Takeshi Kitano (Achilles and the Tortoise), Nuri Bilge Ceylan ( Three Monkeys ), Kore-eda Hirokazu ( Still Walking ), Rituparno Ghosh ( After Words , a DIFF world premiere), Tunde Kelani ( Arugba ), Laurent Cantet (the Palme d’Or winner, The Class ), Kim Jee-woon ( The Good, The Bad, The Weird ), Deepa Mehta ( Heaven On Earth ), Paolo Sorrentino ( Il Divo ), Priyadarshan ( Kanchivaram ), the Dardenne brothers ( Lorna’s Silence ), Mamoru Oshii ( The Sky Crawlers ) and Philippe Lioret ( Welcome ).
Alongside these experienced filmmakers, DIFF 2009 will introduce South African audiences to the next generation of auteurs. New filmmakers include the acclaimed Indian actress Nandita Das whose directorial debut Firaaq takes an honest look at religious division and violence in India. Others include Mama Keïta (The Absence ), Ramtin Lavafipour ( Be Calm And Count To Seven ), Edwin ( Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly ), Eugenie Jansen ( Calimucho ), Satish Manwar ( The Damned Rain ), Shashanka Ghosh ( Quick Gun Murugan ), Wanuri Kahiu ( From A Whisper ), Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor ( Helen ), Uberto Pasolini ( Machan ), Leon Dai ( No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti ) and So Yong Kim ( Treeless Mountain ).
Apart from the strong representation of South African cinema, DIFF will focus on the cinemas of France, India and Palestine. In an impressive year for Palestinian cinema, the festival will present three very different and very powerful films: Najwa Najjar’s Pomegranates And Myrrh, Annemarie Jacir’s Salt Of This Sea and Rashid Masharawi’s Laila’s Birthday.