Several documentaries at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which runs from 22 July to 1 August, provide deep insight into a spectrum of African realities, such as Connie Field’s articulate, Have You Heard From Johannesburg? The film makes South Africa’s turbulent history a lot clearer by showing how the sports boycott became a turning point for political change.
Rehad Desai dramatically addresses inner city conflicts and concerns in The Battle for Johannesburg, while When The Mountain Meets Its Shadow tells the stories of the fight for survival in the informal settlements and townships around Cape Town. David Forbes’ The Cradock Four covers the story of the abduction of four leading activists and their murder in June 1985.
Savo Tufegdzic’s Sons Of The Sand is a riveting testament to the co-founder of the Black Consciousness Movement. Filled with rare archival footage, RFK InThe Land Of Apartheid – A Ripple Of Hope tells of Robert Kennedy’s historic visit to South Africa during the oppressive 1960’s.
Surfing Soweto is an amazing, and dangerous, coming of age story that follows a group of Soweto teenagers who surf moving trains. The Foster brothers’ My Hunter’s Heart follows an epic journey by younger members of the Khomani San as they try to recapture some of the knowledge and skills of their ancestors.
Other offerings include miracles of the mind in Renee Scheltema’s Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What; Steve Kwena Mokwena’s aesthetic meditation on postcolonial Africa in Driving With Fanon; Mzimasi Gova’s reflection on golf development in black townships in The Fairway; Josh Sternlicht’s Fool In A Bubble, a candid exploration into the journey and conflicts of cult Durban musician/poet, Syd Kitchen; Carlos Franciso’s American Foulbrood, which looks at the crippling effects and possible impacts of a deadly disease on African honey bees; and Letters From Teddy, Terry Westby-Nunn’s deeply poignant story set against the backdrop of British colonial society in Aden in the 1950s.
Mugabe and the White African is an extraordinary tale of defiance, hope and perseverance in the face of injustice and brutality. as a white farmer challenges Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in an International Court. Koundi and the National Thursday is an inside look at life in a village community in the forests of Cameroon. Coming out of the Nkuta introduces us to brave Cameroonians who struggle for a sense of value and legitimacy for gay people within their communities; Kinshasa Symphony focuses on the formation of an orchestra against the colourful backdrop of Kinshasa; while the superb Congo in Four Acts is a quartet of short documentaries that lay bare the reality of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Additionally, a number of short documentary packages offer a variety of revealing insights into Ugandan and Nigerian society, and of course South Africa. This includes Siyabonga Mama, in which Durban filmmaker Omelga Mthiyane follows her mother across the legendary Warwick Market, while Omelga and Sarah Dawson are the subjects of a separate film by Malaysian filmmaker Tan Chui Mui in Sarah And Omelga.
DIFF is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN). Full festival programme details can be found at www.cca.ukzn.ac.za