Documentaries at DIFF 2014


A World Not Ours
UK | Lebanon | Denmark | United Arab Emirates

This intimate documentary paints a deeply personal portrait of a Palestinian
refugee camp in south Lebanon which is home to some 300 000 refugees who
live in terrible social and economic conditions.
Born in Dubai and raised in Denmark, Fleifel’s video diary-style camera chronicles
his visits to the camp, where he encounters such colourful figures as his
crotchety grandfather and temperamental friend and chicken-raiser, Said. The
highly watchable film is a vivid archive of idiosyncratic impressions of the refugee
experience. Containing undertones of Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, it is
characterised by an unusual warmth, compassion and humour in its depiction of
refugee life.


Young people today are growing up in radically different conditions to those of
the generation before them, spending much of their formative years on the
internet, with no experience of a world in which the web wasn’t woven into the
fabric of civilization. Reality itself has a different meaning for teenagers born into
the digital age, and InRealLife examines the effect of being perpetually plugged
in on their young minds.
In tackling such a vast topic, British director Beeban Kidron takes the lives of
ordinary kids as case studies, opening up a window into the web-dependency of
modern civilisation. Thoughtful context is provided by interviews with major
players in the digital age, such as Wikilieaks’ Julian Assange and Wikipedia
founder Jimmy Wales, highlighting the way in which over-exposure, digital
addiction and the corporate collection and storage of personal data are all a
part of a tectonic shift in our social environment.

Mandela – The Myth and Me
South Africa | Germany

This major new work by South African director Khalo Matabane takes a turn
towards the deeply personal, as he excavates and vocalizes his passionate and
conflicted inner thoughts about the revered late Nelson Mandela.
He wonders aloud about the nation’s first democratic president’s message of
freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation in the context of present day South
Africa, meticulously unpicking his own disillusionment in a way that will resonate
with those who ask themselves the question “Where did we go wrong?’. While
movingly intimate, Matabane avoids too individualistic an account by juxtaposing
his reflections on the beatification of a complex human being with those of a
wide and impressive range of relevant figures, including the Dalai Lama, Henry
Kissinger, Colin Powell, Peter Hain and Albie Sachs, as well as the thoughts of
ordinary working class South Africans.

Shield and Spear
USA | South Africa

When acclaimed artist Brett Murray painted an unflattering caricature of South
African president Jacob Zuma, he provoked a lawsuit, death threats and major
protests. Set around this incident, Shield and Spear explores a constellation of
stories about identity, art, race, and freedom of expression in South Africa,
twenty years into democracy.
A story about what comes after the jubilation and celebration of South Africa’s
newly won freedom, the film explores those areas where art and politics
intersect. Shield and Spear is a film about creative identity in a place where
issues of race, class and history are impossible to ignore.

The Do Gooders
Palestine | UK | Israel

In The Do Gooders British director Chloe Ruthven embarks on a personal
journey, following in the footsteps of her aid-worker grandparents who tried to
help the oppressed people of Palestine. But Chloe’s quest soon becomes more
complex as she begins to explore the impact of foreign aid in the area.
The film is shot with guerrilla-style immediacy and introduces us to some of the
many people who have offered their assistance to the Palestinian people over
past decades, exploring the problematic nature of aid workers and the troubled
legacy they leave in their wake. The film also introduces us to the fascinating
and opinionated Lubna, a local woman who is taken on as Ruthven’s driver, fixer
and translator. Lubna has fierce criticisms of foreign aid in the region, and what
begins as a quest to explore the altruism of her aid-worker family becomes a far
more complicated engagement between two women as they seek to
understand each other’s point of view.

The King and the People
South Africa

Shifting his attention from Zimbabwe to Swaziland, Simon Bright (director of
Mugabe… What Happened?) turns his camera onto another African leader, King
Mswati III, Africa’s last remaining absolute monarch.
Set against the backdrop of approaching elections, The King and the People
poses the question of how one man is able to retain power over the state, the
law, the land and its people in the contemporary world, while capturing the spirit
of the Swazi people’s struggle against the oppressive monarchy. This important
documentary sheds light on a crisis that is misunderstood by many, and
uncovers the reality of a system of governance that is based on royal
supremacy, greed, power and the eschewal of basic human rights.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here