French films in Durban


Eight French-language films can be seen at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which runs at multiple venues around the city and surrounding townships until 1 August. The French films encompass a gamut of genres, mixing celebrated voices with new talents. 

Included in the line-up is Moloch Tropical, the new film from celebrated Haitian director, Raoul Peck (Lumumba, Sometimes in April). The film is a dark and scathing political comedy about the last 24 hours of the reign of a fictitious Haitian president whose monstrous ways have catalysed a revolution. (Look out for an interview with Raoul Peck in the September issue of Screen Africa.)

Also part of the French programme at DIFF is Wild Grass is by the great Alain Resnais, perhaps best known for Hiroshima Mon Amour. Wild Grass is the story of unlikely love affair, connecting the destinies of several ennui-laden adults into an intriguing web of emotions and personal digressions.

The incomparable actress Isabelle Hupert stars in two very different films at this year’s fest. In Marc Fitoussi’s Copacabana she plays Babou, a bohemian mother who has never held down a job. Determined to win back the love of her long-suffering daughter, Babou enters the dubious world of real estate agents. 

In White Material, directed by Claire Denis, and which also stars Christopher Lambert and Isaach de Bankole, Hupert plays Maria, a woman determined to maintain stability on her coffee plantation while the unnamed African country she’s living in falls apart around her. De Bankole who plays a rebel in the film will be in attendance at the festival. The experienced actor has appeared in over 30 films, including films by Jim Jarmusch and Lars von Trier. He has also appeared in the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale and is well known for his role in Season 7 of the popular television show, 24.

A Screaming Man, the winner of the Jury prize at the recent Cannes Film Festival, and directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, tells the story of an aging hotel pool attendant who is demoted to guardsman and replaced by his son when the hotel falls under new management. Set against Chad’s ongoing civil strife, the tension of life lived under the siege of conflict is palpably communicated. The Time That Remains by Elia Suleiman is a semi-autobiographical chronicle of the life of a Palestinian family who remained in Israel in 1948, living as a minority in their own homeland.

Chicks is director Sophie Letourner’s debut and is an affectionate celebration of the last days of youth. The satire The Concert by Radu Mihaileanu concerns a cleaner and renowned ex-conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra who was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. He intercepts a prestigious official invitation meant for the orchestra and gathers together his former musicians who are now aging alcoholics to perform in Paris. 

The Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre For Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, HIVOS, City Of Durban, German Embassy of South Africa, Goethe-Institut South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation, Commonwealth Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.

For more information about the DIFF programme visit or call 031 260 2506.


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