This month hundreds of local and international delegates will attend the biggest event on the South African industry calendar – the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). It runs alongside integrated industry development programmes such as Talent Campus Durban, an initiative targeted at emerging African filmmakers, and the Durban FilmMart Co-Production & Finance Market.
South African films will book-end this 33rd edition of DIFF. On 19 July the first ever feature film produced in the Venda language, Ntshaveni wa Luruli’s Elelwani, will open the festival. The long awaited animated Adventures in Zambezia 3D is the closing night film on 28 July.
DIFF director Peter Rorvik is excited to report that an unprecedented 16 South African feature films will be screened at the festival. “This is hugely encouraging as it indicates that the local film industry is currently in a very productive state. Among the many South African titles that are sure to attract interest are Sleeper’s Wake, Gog’ Helen, Taste of Rain, Fynbos, Zama Zama, Blitz Patrollie and Accession.’
Rorvik has scored a major coup by securing the Palme d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Michael Haneke’s Amour. “This poignant and beautifully executed film brings up important issues of old age and death,’ he says.
Alongside the strong South African and African representation and heading a powerful European showing there is a French focus as part of the France-South Africa Season 2012 & 2013, with an alluring array of new French films.
DIFF has also secured the participation of Canal France International (CFI) and 12 African television broadcasters which will host their annual conference at DIFF, and well-known TV channel Arte France. CFI and Arte will both present awards to film projects at the Durban FilmMart.
Some 19 South African documentaries will be highlighted at the festival, including the world premieres of Legends of the Casbah: Indian Rebels of the 1950s; Bigger Than Life and Cassette: Who Do You Trust?
There are also two world premieres from NHU Africa – All the President’s Elephants by Richard Slater Jones and The Foster Brothers’ The Dragon’s Feast 3D.
International documentary titles include the IDFA Green Screen winner Bitter Seeds; two superb films from Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame; Four Horsemen about the economic apocalypse; and Searching for Sugarman on the success in South Africa of cult musician Rodriquez.
Another music-based documentary with a South African connection is Beware of Mr Baker, a sometimes explosive story of drummer Ginger Baker who played for Cream and Fela Kuti.
The business of film
Now in its third year, the Durban FilmMart (20 to 23 July) is coming of age and has increased the projects in its line-up; 11 fiction feature projects and 12 documentary projects will have the opportunity to pitch before a panel of international financiers and co-producers.
“With this edition the Durban FilmMart is set to build on its already significant contributions to the development of the African film industry,’ says Rorvik.
Durban FilmMart is a joint venture between the Durban Film Office (DFO) and DIFF. Says the DFO’s Toni Monty: “Our theme is “Africa meets the World’. By adding more projects in the Finance Forum we are widening the scope for African storytelling. This year we also boast the highest number of broadcasters – 18 – in attendance at the DOC Circle Pitch Forum.’
Monty notes that the European Audio Visual Entrepreneur (EAVE) master classes will keep Durban FilmMart delegates up to date with trends on the international front. EAVE will present a master class on Finance by Roshanak Behesht Nedjad and another on Script Writing by Jacques Akchoti.
Financiers meeting African projects in DFM’s Finance Forum include representatives from leading funds and international acquisitions and distribution companies including Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, World View, World Cinema Support, Global Film Initiative, Louverture Films, Films Boutique and Focus Features to name a few.
The DIFF / Durban FilmMart / Talent Campus hub has moved from the city centre to Durban’s beachfront. Seminars, panel discussions, master classes and screenings will take place at the Blue Waters Hotel on the Golden Mile.
An important event scheduled to take place during the festival is the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, which is positioned to further stimulate production in the province.
Screen Africa magazine – July 2012