From 21 to 31 July fans of discerning world cinema can revel in South Africa’s largest and longest running festival, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). Running alongside DIFF are the 2nd Durban FilmMart Co-production and Finance Market (DFM) and the 4th Talent Campus Durban, as well as an extensive programme of seminars and workshops aimed at developing the local film industry.
With principal funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this year the DIFF line-up comprises 83 feature films, 48 documentaries and 44 short films. Festival director Peter Rorvik is delighted to report a strong South African crop among these, namely 11 feature films, 23 documentaries and 24 shorts.
Says Rorvik: “The challenge for our audiences is how to pick and choose from such a fantastic selection. I’m very excited about the quality of films this year, particularly as we were fortunate enough to secure a number of last minute films from the recent Cannes Film Festival.
“DIFF has for many years presented films that conscientise audiences about environmental issues and with the COP 17 conference taking place in Durban later this year the 2011 Eco-Lens strand is extremely strong. High profile films are led by The Big Fix (about the devastation caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and subsequent cover-ups) and Countdown to Zero (nuclear threats and disarmament challenges). Into Eternity is about a facility deep underground in Finland that is expected to house nuclear waste for 100,000 years.’
A special guest of the festival is acclaimed Burkinabe filmmaker, Gaston Kabore, one of the founders of FESPACO and head of the Imagine Institute in Ouagadougou. Kabore will present a master class at Talent Campus Durban, which features nearly 50 emerging filmmakers from various African countries.
Another guest is renowned Canadian environmental activist, Paul Watson, the Greenpeace Foundation co-founder, and current director of Sea Shepherd Society – DIFF will screen the documentary Eco Pirate – the Story of Paul Watson.
Rorvik notes that, just like Talent Campus Durban, the creation of DFM was a logical trajectory for DIFF and adds a very important dimension. “DFM facilitates industry growth and the production of African films. This year DIFF will screen the Egyptian film Hawi, which was in last year’s DFM, and we fully expect the process to deliver more great films for screening at DIFF and other festivals in the future.’
The Royal Hotel will once again serve as the hub for DIFF, DFM and Talent Campus Durban, and the festival has added a dedicated screening venue within the hotel complex. DIFF has brought in a specialist from the Netherlands to help with technical issues around the wide spectrum of digital formats (including HD) submitted to the festival.
Now in its seventh year, the Wavescape Surf Film Festival has been a very successful component of DIFF and will kick off on 25 July with an outdoor screening at the Bay of Plenty on Durban’s beachfront and then run for five days at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave. Many of the films feature South African surfers and locations.