“In a world in which people find themselves displaced and seeking refuge in foreign lands, the theme for the 2017 festival is Transit Tales, showcasing a number of films capturing the emotive stories of human displacement as result of war and catastrophic events.”
Hot on the heels of the announcement of the 10th Talents Durban participants list – which is predominantly made up of women – the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced a strong focus on developing local talent and skills transfer during its 2017 edition, taking place from 13 to 23 July.
Ster-Kinekor Musgrave and Gateway, as well as The Playhouse have been confirmed as venues for the premiere and commercial screenings. The outreach programme will see screenings take place in film schools and townships including K-Cap (theatre) in KwaMashu, Luthuli Museum in Groutville, Qashana Khuzwayo Library, Westville Correctional Services Centre, Ohlange Library in Inanda, Creative Arts College, Wushwini Arts Centre, Umlazi Library, Lamontville, uShaka Marine World, Max’s Lifestyle, the History Museum and the Bay of Plenty Lawns. The weeklong programme comprises screenings and workshops aimed at ensuring not just city-wide participation in the festival but also engaging locally-based prospective filmmakers.
In a world in which people find themselves displaced and seeking refuge in foreign lands, the theme for the 2017 festival is Transit Tales, showcasing a number of films capturing the emotive stories of human displacement as result of war and catastrophic events. It is the vision of DIFF’s newly appointed festival manager, Chipo Zhou, for the festival to reinvent what it is to be a film festival within the African context, and to set an industry standard for the inclusion of women and women-led films. As such the festival has a special focus on African content and women-led films.
“We have to redefine what and who tells the tales in society as that has a significant role in how people learn and understand the world, particularly the African continent,” says Zhou.
“The festival this year is giving women a platform to take ownership of our stories, the origins of our stories and how they are told. We have the opportunity to reconstruct our narrative as such that we re-socialise society in order that it reconceives perceptions about women, especially in the wake of the brutality against women we have seen in South Africa recently,” she continues.
“As the East African saying goes, unless lions have their own historians, all tales about the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” she says in a proverbial reference to male domination in ownership and control of media companies. “It is a remarkable milestone that we have some strong female-led films this year.”
Consistent with the special focus on women is the Durban FilmMart’s programme which will feature a session on Women-Led Film Conversations with Tilane Jones, executive director at ARRAY, as well as a Women-Led Film Media Breakfast.
DIFF will go a long way in contributing to Africa’s Aspiration 5 of Agenda 2063 where the role of film in fostering a strong African identity is concerned. The continent has risen to the occasion this year with a significant upward jump not only in the number of submissions but also the quality of the films. In keeping with the African film focus, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission will host a delegation of Kenyan filmmakers to foster relations between the two countries in the context of film, and to possibly promote co-productions. Additionally, this initiative will see the screening of several Kenyan films at the festival.
The festival will run from 13 to 23 July, returning to its original dates (second week of July) after taking place in June last year due to the 2016 AIDS Conference held in Durban. Dates for the next three years have been secured to ensure the festival continues to take place in July.
The DIFF awards are scheduled to take place on 22 July, a day before the closing film draws the curtain on this year’s edition of the festival. The awards are where the most outstanding film submissions and filmmakers are honoured.