Winners of the Best International Documentary and Best SA Documentary awards at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) will now automatically qualify for Oscar consideration.
The festival has been notified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of this inclusion, which effectively means that the winning documentaries will be up for consideration for the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.
This year, the Academy established a Documentary Feature Qualifying Festival List, and the DIFF is one of 28 selected international festivals that will be have their winners up for consideration.
DIFF joins other prestigious festivals from around the globe including the Cannes International Film Festival, Berlinale International Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, and IDFA – the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
The only other qualifying African festival is the Carthage Festival in Tunisia.
“We are delighted with this international recognition, and we are especially pleased for the film-makers that will benefit from the recognition that they will receive as a result,” says Lliane Loots of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “The festival began 39 years ago as a means to expose South Africans to global stories, during the really dark days of Apartheid, where censorship and government policy, as well as hard-felt, yet very effective, cultural boycotts denied us access to international creative expression. It was also started as a means to offer cinema experiences in townships where people had very little access to ‘the media’ at large. So from these humble beginnings, we are really grateful to the Academy for providing this opportunity for the filmmakers who have films in the festival.”
The Durban International Film Festival is currently running at various venues in Durban until 29 July.