The remarkably diverse cinema of India is celebrated at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival this year, with a focus on both the classic and the daringly contemporary, with music and art also finding a prominent place.
Six films from the great Indian master Satyajit Ray will be presented, alongside fine works by talented new Indian filmmakers, an exhibition dedicated to Bollywood by artist Ranjit Dahiya, and a performance by Indian slide-guitar maestro Debasish Bhattacharya. Taking place from 21 to 31 July, the 32nd Durban International Film Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism and other valued funders and partners.
Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), widely recognised as one of the greatest auteurs of 20th century, made more than 30 films in a prolific career beginning with the masterful debut Pather Panchali (Song Of The Little Road) in 1955. Along with Pather Panchali DIFF will present Aparajito (The Unvanquished), Charulata (The Lonely Wife), Kapurush (The Coward), Ghare Baire (The Home and The World) and Ray’s final film, Agantuk (The Stranger).
In 1991, Ray received an Honorary Academy Award recognising his lifetime achievement in film, one of many awards that the director received in his life. It was Akira Kurosawa, the great master of Japanese cinema, who paid Satyajit Ray perhaps the greatest compliment, when he said, “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon”.
Alongside the Ray Retrospective, the festival will feature some exciting new works by fresh Indian talents. Leena Manimekelai will present the World Premiere of her film The Dead Sea (Sengadal), a haunting and powerful Tamil film about the lives of Tamil fishermen and the difficulties they faced during the Sri Lankan war. The resulting blend of fiction and documentary is a powerful protest against the injustices and ethnic cleansing which continues to take place around the world.
Onir’s I Am is a riveting film about the search for identity in complex contemporary India and features some of India’s finest actors including Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das and Manisha Koirala.
Sanjoy Nag’s Bengali Memories In March tells the moving story of the relationship between a grieving mother and her son’s male lover who eventually unite in their mutual grief – slowly coming to terms with each other, themselves and the harsh realities of life.
Kaushik Mukherjee’s Bengali hip hop film Asshole (Gandu) is a wild, sexually explicit journey into the mind of an angry and aimless young man who finds meaning only in freestyle rap and beatboxing. Asshole is a daring, subversive and powerful piece of cinema.
Aamir Bashir’s Autumn (Harud) is a visually stunning and deeply moving film about the plight of young Kashmiri men who are stuck in an endless war. Autumn tells the story of Rafiq, a young man struggling to come to terms with the loss of his older brother Tauqir, who has been missing for several months after being taken by the authorities.
Rounding up the selection, straight from its presentation in Cannes, is Bollywood – The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, a documentary which takes the viewer through the history of India’s most famous cinematic export through song and dance.
Indian Cinema will also be celebrated through the History of Bollywood Cinema exhibition, presented in association with the Alliance Française. The exhibition opens on 18 July and will be presented at the Alliance Française (22 Sutton Crescent), the DUT Art gallery (Steve Biko Campus), artSPACE Durban (3 Millar Road), and the COLLECTIvE (48b Florida Road, Morningside).
The exhibition will close with a fabulous Indian Night at the Alliance Française from 7pm on 29 July. The acclaimed Indian slide-guitar maestro, Debashish Bhattacharya will perform, and this will be followed by music from Bollywood DJs. Tickets cost R50 (R25 for members).
Festival screenings will take place at Nu Metro Cinecentre Suncoast, Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau Gateway, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Ekhaya KwaMashu, The Royal Hotel, Luthuli Museum (Groutville) and other venues.
For film synopses, screening schedules and programme details on the 32nd Durban International Film Festival visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za.
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 of South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation and a range of other valued partners.