The year-round selection process for the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) sees festival manager Nashen Moodley viewing a staggering 600 films or more.
“I’m delighted to say that we have an excellent selection this year – quite an edgy group of films in fact,’ says Moodley, whose search for the best in world cinema takes him to festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam, Toronto, Pusan and FESPACO.
He notes that DIFF has a broad sensibility: “Basically we look for films that excite us. We do seek some level of geographical representation and while we want films from established filmmakers, DIFF is also keen to show audiences new talents. I think it’s sad that there is such limited exposure in South Africa to different styles of cinema. That’s why festivals are so important.’
A special focus at DIFF 2011 is Indian cinema, with six films from the late, award-winning Satyajit Ray and five new films from fresh talents, as well as a documentary on Bollywood.
This year Moodley saw many wonderful films from Canada, which has resulted in a special Canadian focus at DIFF 2011, led by Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee, Incendies (brought to DIFF courtesy Ster-Kinekor).
In a coup Moodley managed to secure a number of films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, namely the Palme d’Or winner, Tree of Life (Brad Pit and Sean Penn), brought to DIFF courtesy of Nu Metro. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which opened Cannes, will screen at DIFF courtesy of Videovision Entertainment. There is also the Swedish coming of age film, Play, and the French film, The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
Fresh from Cannes is South African writer/director Oliver Hermanus’ Skoonheid. Says Moodley: “This was the first ever Afrikaans-language film to be selected for the Cannes Un Certain Regard competition and won the Queer Palm award. I think it’s magnificent and Oliver and his cast will be at DIFF.
“Our opening night film is another South African production, Sara Blecher’s fascinating Otelo Burning. Among the other local films are Charlie Vundla’s stylish film noir, How to Steal 2 Million, and John Barker’s striking heist film, 31 Million Reasons.’
There is also Faith Isiakpere’s taut police brutality drama, The Algiers Murders; the hilarious comedy Taka Takata by Damir Radonic; The Dream by Zuko Nodada; Mukunda Michael Dewil’s psychological thriller Retribution; Eldorado by newcomer brother and sister team, Shaldon and Lorreal Ferris, and Black Butterlies, Paula van der Oest’s moving Ingrid Jonker biopic.
African cinema is represented by DRC filmmaker Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s unique Viva Riva!; Nigerian director Andrew Donsunmu’s visually beautiful Restless City, Justin Chadwick’s uplifting Kenya-set film The First Grader, and Ebrahim El Batout’s Hawi, a project at the inaugural Durban FilmMart in 2010.