Canadian Country Focus at DIFF and DFM

Supported by Telefilm Canada and the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, Canada’s film scene will present itself from a variety of perspectives at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival (18-28 July) and Durban FilmMart (19 – 22 July).

This “Country in Focus” initiative during the DIFF and DFM gives Canada’s film industry and filmmakers the opportunity to introduce themselves in greater depth and highlight certain aspects to their peers within the African and South African context.

A delegation of Canadian producers and other film professionals will be present in Durban to represent films in the festival and to participate in the industry programme. The aim of this initiative is to foster exchange between the Canadian and African FilmMakers and help grow South to North networks. Canada’s participation in the Durban FilmMart industry programme includes the CineFam Africa Incubator, the inaugural Durban Does Docs one-day conference with HotDocs Canada, and meetings with official projects in the Finance Forum.

Collaborations between South African and Canadian producers, unpacking the successes of the official co-production treaty between the two countries, and exploring future opportunities to enhance these collaborations, will be the special focus of this delegation.

Now in its third year the CineFAM-South Africa Co-Production Accelerator at the DFM  aims to develop films and television content  by African women and women of colour from the global Diaspora. The Programme takes the form of a series of workshops, in Canada and South Africa, that aims to kickstart original co-productions led by experienced and seasoned female producers, writers and directors from both countries.

The programme is co-led by Frances-Anne Solomon, Founder and Executive Director of CineFAM, and CEO of the CaribbeanTales Media Group, and South African Producer Zikethiwe Ngcobo of Johannesburg-based Fuzebox Entertainment. Solomon also has the African Premiere of her film Hero, in the DIFF programme, and will be in attendance at the festival and mart.

“We are honoured to have the spotlight on Canada this year. This provides a vital opportunity for filmmakers to cultivate and develop international relationships, and lead to co-productions between Canada and South Africa,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director at Telefilm Canada. “Partnerships like this allow us both to reach audiences on a greater international scale and help to ensure the sustainability of our creative industries. We are very proud of the diversity and talent represented by the films selected in the ‘Country in Focus’ programme as well.”

“The High Commission of Canada in South Africa is proud to support DIFF for its 40th edition and DFM on its 10th anniversary. DIFF and DFM are important events for both Canadians and South Africans today because South Africa and Canada’s relationship is based on the common shared values of equality, democracy, peace, security and prosperity. The union between South Africa and Canada continues to grow and form new partnerships while cementing and enhancing old ones.” – High Commission of Canada in South Africa.

“One of the primary objectives of the DFM and DIFF is to create business and creative opportunities for South African and African filmmakers to develop their own continental and global networks, and to review their own business and film-making processes,” says Toni Monty Head of the Durban Film Office and Durban FilmMart. “So we are particularly pleased that Telefilm Canada, the High Commission of Canada in SA, CineFAM and HotDocs are partnering with us in facilitating this coming together of industry peers to collaborate, connect and reflect.”

Manager of the DIFF Chipo Zhou says, “Canadian films are globally renowned for having strong scripts and unique narratives with high production values, and so we are delighted that we are able to present these diverse and powerful films to complement the overall Canadian presence at the DIFF this year.”

The Canadian films at the DIFF include:

Hero directed by Frances-Anne Solomon: 20 July 18:30 Musgrave, 24 July 10:00 Suncoast, 24 July 16:00 Gateway (Director will be in attendance).

Shot in Trinidad, Ghana, the UK, and Canada, Hero tells the story of Ulric Cross, who left his small island home in 1941 to seek his fortune, and became the RAF’s most decorated West Indian member. However, his life took a dramatically different course when he followed the call of history and joined the independence movements sweeping the world in the 1950s and ’60s. In the process, Cross became part of the fabric of history, his long life spanning key moments in the 20th century, including independence in Africa and the Caribbean.

Honey Bee directed by Rama Rau: 21 July 14:30 Suncoast & 25 July 20:00 Gateway

In Honey Bee, a teenage sex worker has to adjust to life with a new foster family. Natalie is a slightly built but forceful young woman who works as a truck stop prostitute for her boyfriend/pimp Ryan, who has given her the nickname Honey Bee and who clearly views her as a piece of property. When Natalie is arrested by an undercover detective, she is sent to live in foster care on a farm. Sensitively directed, Honey Bee is a nuanced and insightful character study of a young woman at the crossroads of her life.

Diane directed by Kent Jones: 20 July 16:30 Gateway &  23 July 20:30 Gateway

For Diane, everyone else comes first. Generous but with little patience for self-pity, she spends her days checking in on sick friends, volunteering at her local soup kitchen, and trying valiantly to save her troubled, drug-addicted adult son from himself. But beneath her relentless routine of self-sacrifice, Diane is fighting a desperate internal battle, haunted by a past she can’t forget. Built around an extraordinary, fearless performance by Mary Kay Place, this narrative debut from Kent Jones is a profound, beautifully human portrait of a woman rifling through the wreckage of her life in search of redemption.

Everything Outside directed by David Findlay: 20 July 12:00 Gateway & 24 July 19:15 Suncoast

Every autumn, Louise, an established Quebec painter in her sixties, moves into her friend Charlotte’s remote lake house to work in the peace and quiet and temporarily enjoy the life of a recluse. This year, however, unbeknown to her, one of Charlotte’s grandchildren has offered the house to his friend Ahmed, an aspiring Lebanese actor from Toronto, to rehearse for his first major role in a film. In a space belonging to neither party, the two strangers, initially startled by each other’s presence, develop an odd yet sincere bond that becomes highly vulnerable when exposed to exterior forces.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up directed by Tasha Hubbard: 22 July 20:30 Musgrave  &  25 July 18:15 Suncoast

In 2016 Colten Boushie, a young indigenous Canadian, died from a gunshot wound after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about the racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands.

The Grizzlies directed by Miranda de Pencier: 22 July 16:00 Gateway & 26 July 18:00 Gateway

The Grizzlies is based on a true story about a group of Inuit students in the small Arctic town of Kugluktuk. When Russ Sheppard, yet another ignorant and unprepared white rookie teacher, arrives, the students are naturally sceptical.  With much to learn, Russ introduces his class to the sport of lacrosse in an effort to help lift the dangerous fog of trauma and apathy. Driven by remarkable performances and unassailable authenticity, this is an inspiring and deeply felt film about rising above adversity in Africa and the Caribbean.

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers & Kathleen Hepburn: 20 July 14:00 Gateway & 28 July 17:15 Suncoast 7

When Áila encounters a young Indigenous woman, barefoot and crying in the rain, she soon discovers that the young woman, Rosie, has just escaped a violent assault at the hands of her boyfriend. Áila, who is also of Indigenous descent but lives a more privileged life, decides to bring Rosie home with her. Over the course of the evening, the two navigate the aftermath of this traumatic event. Inspired by a transformative moment in the life of co-director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, The Body Remembers is not content to provide simple answers but acknowledges the complexity of abuse.

We Have Forever directed by Paul Barbeau:  21 July 19:00  Musgrave & 27 July 16:30 Musgrave

At the start of adulthood, Antoine has many options: to work in his mom’s restaurant or attend one of the top culinary arts school in the world, to join his friends in Montreal or stay and chill in a small rural village and work as a welder. Choices, detours, and at times setbacks – but there is no need to worry when you’re 20. We Have Forever is a film about time, a film that seems to slow down its narrative tempo in order to illustrate the fact that when you’re 18, eternity seems to lie ahead of you.

Quantification directed by Jeremy Shaw : 9 July 19:00 Gateway & 24 July 18:30 Gateway

Jeremy Shaw’s three recent films, Quickeners (2014), Liminals (2017), and I Can See Forever (2018), explore the potential of catharsis to simultaneously represent and effect states of mind, perception, ecstasy, belief, religious fervour, and extremes of subjective experience. Each individual film evokes a familiar context from a not-so-distant past: Quickeners feels like 1950s small-town America, Liminals like any western city of the 1970s, and I Can See Forever appears to be set in 1990s Berlin or an American metropolis. Seen as a trilogy, the short films present a remarkably visceral and complete cinematic experience.

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