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Durban Film Office (DFO) Press

Durban Film Office (DFO) Press
Established in 2003, the Durban Film Office (DFO) is a Department of eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit, responsible for the promotion and development of the Film and Television Industry in the City of Durban.

The African Emerging Filmmakers Awards: Call for entries

The African Emerging Filmmakers Awards (AEFA) would like to invite all Africa filmmakers to submit their films. The awards ceremony will take place on 16 November 2019 at the Greyville Race Course. The film submissions call out period opened on 20 September 2019 and will close on 2 November 2019.

Film producers of African origin from all over the continent are invited to submit their films. Films from any genre can be submitted in a DVD format. Submissions must be clearly marked with: ‘Film Title’, ‘The Producer’s Name’ and ‘The Producer’s Contact Details’.

Awards catagories:

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Film in Vernacular Language
  • Best Screen Writer/Story
  • Best Director
  • Best Editor
  • Best Feature Film
  • Best Sound
  • Best Cinematographer
  • Best Student Production

Films can be either hand delivered – during office hours – or mailed to Durban Film Office, 41 Margaret Mncadi Avenue, Rennie House, 11th Floor.

Regrettably, films with technical errors will not be considered. If you have any questions email Ethekwini Filmmakers Association (efa031@gmail.com) or call Happiness Mpase on 074 362 2493.

The African Emerging Filmmakers Awards are hosted by the Ethekwini Filmmakers Association, with the assistance of the Durban Film Office, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, and KZN EDTEA.

Durban International Film Festival announces director Zhang Wei’s The Rib as Audience Choice

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban International Film Festival, which wrapped in the City on 28 July has announced that the Audience Choice Award has been given to the Chinese film The Rib directed by Zhang Wei, about a Chinese man who attempts to convince his religious father to accept his transgender identity.

In this feature film, directed, produced and financed by Wei, Li Jianguo, a devout Christian and a volunteer at his church, finds out that his only son, Li Huanyu, plans to have sex reassignment surgery – and legally requires his consent. The close-knit parish regards this as a sin or sickness that can be prayed away, and Li initially rejects his son’s desire to become a woman. But when the flamboyant Liu Mann, one of his Li’s transgender friends, commits suicide in an act of desperation, the old man renews his effort to better connect with his son, leading to a spiritual transformation for both of them.

“We are delighted that a film which provides a voice for the LGBTIQ+ community has found its way to the south of Africa, and not only found its audience but impressed them thus to vote for it as the their best film at the festival,” says Chipo Zhou, the DIFF Manager. “This film is a powerful feature, exquisitely filmed, that touches on so many of society’s taboos from gender and sexual identity to religion and suicide and the intersection of these. Our heartfelt congratulations to the filmmaker for his artistic bravery, and we hope the film gets the recognition it deserves as it progresses along it distribution journey.”

Zhou reports that the Festival was well received this year, with 212 documentaries, features and shorts screened at venues around the city. “The DIFF’s Isiphethu Hub supported by the KZN Film Commission and the IDC was able to provide workshops, panel discussions, pitches and general networking opportunities for emerging and aspiring filmmakers,” she says. “The 10th Durban FilmMart, the DIFF’s partner programme with the Durban Film Office, had a record number of delegates this year – a testament to the growth of the programme and the trust and support by the industry as a whole.”

“We saw a large number of films by first time directors making their mark and taking awards, which we take as a sign that the industry is open to new voices. This is space for dialogue, more so, the home of the development of African talent and it is the festival’s role to showcase and celebrate these films to the best of our ability.”

The festival, which is hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, is supported by the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission and the United States Consulate in Durban.

The 40th Durban International Film Festival announces its award winners

The 40th Durban International Film Festival announced its winners at its awards ceremony on 23 July at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban, South Africa.

A total of 19 awards were given out at the ceremony:

Best Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award at DIFF 2019For Sama directed Edward Watts and Waad al-Kateab.

Artistic Bravery: Letters Of Hope directed by Vusi Africa.

Best CinematographyDivine Love directed by Gabriel Mascaro.

Best Editing: Cronofobia directed by Francesco Rizzi.

Best ScreenplayLes Misérables directed by Ladj Ly.

Best Short FilmAcid directed by Just Philippot.

Best African Short Film: Brotherhood directed by Meryam JoobeurThe film also received a cash prize of R20, 000 sponsored by the Gauteng Film Commission.

Best South African Short Film: Miracle directed by Bongi Ndaba. The film received a cash prize of R20,000 from the Gauteng Film Commission.

Best Actor: Bongile Mantsai for Knuckle City directed by Jahmil XT. Qubeka.

Best Actress: Nisrin Erradi for Adam directed by Maryam Touzani.

Best Documentary: For Sama directed by Edward Watts and Waad al-Kateab. The film received a cash prize of R25, 000.

Best South African Documentary: Buddha in Africa directed by Nicole Schafer. The award is accompanied by a cash prize of R25, 000.

Best Direction: Divine Love directed by Gabriel Mascaro.

Best South African Feature Film: Back of the Moon directed by Angus Gibson. The film received a cash prize of R25,000.

Best Feature Film: Les Misérables directed by Ladj Ly.  The award is accompanied by a cash prize of R50, 000.

DIFF Legacy Award: Peter Rorvik.

DIFF Legacy Award: Roz Sarkin and Moosa Moosa.

DIFF Legacy Award: Julie Frederikse and Madoda Ncayiyana.

DIFF is included as a Documentary Feature Qualifying Festival by the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences. This means that both the winners of the Best Documentary – For Sama – and Best SA Documentary – Buddha in Africa – automatically qualify for consideration for an Oscar nomination.

The features jury was made up of Emrah Kilic (Turkey), Diarah N’Daw-Spech (USA), Laurence Boyce (UK), Diana Keam (South Africa) and Mohammed Siam (Egypt).

In the documentary jury were Patricia Van Heerden (SA), Florian Weghorn (Germany), Tracy Clayton (UK/SA), Rehad Desai (SA) and Ziyanda Macingwane (SA).

The short film jurors were Jaime E. Manrique (Colombia), Silas Miami, (Kenya), Jacintha De-Nobrega (SA), CJ Obasi (Nigeria) and Mpho Ramathuthu (SA).

DIFF continues until Sunday, 28 July at various venues around Durban.

Durban FilmMart 2019 finishes strong

After a bumper four days of meetings, networking, pitching and forums, the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry development programme of the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office and Durban International Film Festival (Centre for Creative Arts, UKZN), closed in style with its awards ceremony at the Southern Sun Maharani Hotel in Durban, South Africa on 22 July.

Addressing the audience of 300 filmmakers from South Africa, Africa and across the globe, Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office and the Durban FilmMart, said, “We have enjoyed a packed programme, this year with a record number of more than 1000 delegates registered for the DFM, representing 40 countries, 19 of which were from Africa. This year we had 50 projects in our Finance Forum, Talents Durban, Jumpstart, Realness Writers’ Residency and CineFAM programmes who pitched their film projects in development to potential financiers, filmmakers, producers, partners, festivals, distributors and agents in hundreds of meetings.”

“As we reach our tenth anniversary this year, we are reminded of the value that the DFM provides the developing African industry,” says Monty. “The Mart acts as a springboard that enables film-makers to meet and network, benchmark themselves, gather information and learn. Of course this would not be possible without the support of development organisations, our partner markets, and other funding bodies, all of whom we graciously thank.”

“The DFM would like to acknowledge the eThekwini Municipality, the principal funder of the DFM for its involvement in supporting the market, which has become a vital cog in the engine of making film on the continent.”

This year 20 official DFM film projects were pitched at the Finance Forum through the sponsorship of the Industrial Development Corporation and the National Film and Video Foundation. Six CineFam Africa television series projects were mentored by Caribbean Tales, Canada; Jumpstart (Produire au Sud, France) and the Realness Script Writing Residency hosted scriptwriters’ labs for a total of 10 projects; and HotDocs Canada, together with Don Edkins of Afridocs, mentored 13 documentary projects.

Supported by Berlinale Talents and the Goethe-Institut, Durban Talents hosted 18 young filmmakers, and 3 Talents Press.

A number of delegations were hosted including the in-bound delegation from Canada with support from the Canadian High Commission and Telefilm Canada.

The Awards/Grants:

The CineMart Award, sponsored by the co-production market of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, went to the fiction project, Sunflowers in the Dark (Zimbabwe) produced by Ben Mahaka, Tapiwa Chipfupa and directed by Tapiwa Chipfupa. The project is given an opportunity to attend the Rotterdam Lab, a five-day training and networking event for producers from all over the world.

Produire au Sud of Festival des 3 Continents (Nantes)/ IFAS awarded the fiction film Sunflowers in the Dark (Zimbabwe) produced by Ben Mahaka, Tapiwa Chipfupa and directed by Tapiwa Chipfupa an opportunity to attend its developmental workshop programme, PAS, where they will be given tools, expertise, and opportunities to develop European networks.

Carthage Film Festival awarded Pieces of Salma (South Africa) produced by Khosie Dali and David Horler and directed by Imran Hamdulay, an opportunity to participate in their programme in Tunisia.

Sørfond awarded the project Mami Wata (Nigeria) produced by Oge Obasi, directed by C.J.  Obasi  with an opportunity to pitch at the Sørfond Pitching Forum in Oslo later this year.

NFVF CineFAM-Africa Incubator Accelerator Programme Award of a R50 000 development grant went to Sylvia Vollenhoven for Buckingham Palace.

Videovision Entertainment awarded the “Best South African Film Project” to The Bursary (South Africa) produced by Brett Michael Innes and directed by Nomawonga  Khumalo. They receive a prize valued at R75 000, which guarantees its release once it is completed. The prize also includes marketing and distribution support from Videovision Entertainment.

Stage 5 Films Award for the ‘Most Promising Narrative’ went to The Bursary (South Africa) produced by Brett Michael Innes and directed by Nomawonga  Khumalo. They receive a R50 000 cash prize accompanied by an additional R25 000 worth of script coverage, production support, market analysis and packaging for further finance.

Durban FilmMart Talents Award for the Durban Talents Project Selected as a project for DFM went to Twelve Pangas directed by Xola Mteto (South Africa).

Versfeld & Associates, communications consultants awarded Those Who Dwell in Darkness (South Africa) produced by Dolly Mhlongo and Sithabile Mkhize, and directed by Michael James; The Home (South Africa) produced by Justin Cohen, Jessie Zinn, and Chase Musslewhite, and directed by Jessie Zinn and Chase Musslewhite; and Talents Durban project And Who Will Cook? by Samira Vera-Cruz (Cape Verde) was awarded one-on-one publicity consultations.

The broadcast stream, Afridocs, that flights African and other international documentaries across 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa on a weekly basis, gave a €2500 award, funded by the Bertha Foundation, to Kongo is Burning (Uganda / Congo) produced by Ali Musoke and directed by Arnold Aganze.

DoK Leipzig Award went to Black Women and Sex (South Africa) produced and directed by Godisamang Khunou who will be given an opportunity to participate in the 2020 DoK Leipzig programme in Germany.

Hot Docs Blue Ice Award, a cash prize of 2000 Canadian Dollars went to the documentary project Kongo is Burning (Uganda / Congo) produced by Ali Musoke and directed by Arnold Aganze.

The DFM ended on 22 July, but the Durban International Film Festival continues until July 28. 

Engage @ DFM announces partnerships with Awotélé, Carthage Film Festival and United Screens

Engage @ DFM, the new Durban FilmMart-curated think tank conversations and panels on the future perspectives of the African film industry announced a series of partnerships with other stakeholders that have convergent and vested interests in the continent’s screen sector. Spearheaded by industry programmers Themba Bhebhe, Tiny Mungwe, Russel Hlongwane and Mitchell Harper, the 3-day programme, which ran from 20-22 July, comprised closed-rank, moderated think tank discussions in the form of round tables in the mornings, followed by public-facing panels in the afternoons. The solution-driven conversations were articulated around three foci: Towards a de-colonial model for filmmaking and film; How can key African platforms work together create pan-African collaborations to grow cinema?; Strategies for growing documentary filmmaking and documentary audiences in Africa. Designed as spaces for the sharing and production of knowledge, these discussions were documented and their findings subsequently redacted into a report.

Engage @ DFM has sealed partnerships with the film journal Awotélé, the Carthage Film Festival (Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage) as well as the research project conceived by the Berlin-based art space SAVVY Contemporary, United Screens.

Through these strategic partnerships where all three partners actively partake in the conversations forming Engage @ DFM discursively, Awotélé will provide exclusive editorial coverage and a platform which will share the future reports, the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (Carthage Film Festival) will host the next edition of talks – Engage @ JCC – at one of the continent’s oldest and well-established festivals, and United Screens will not only document and archive but also exhibit interviews past and present at the DFM, the KZN SA Gallery and the non-profit organization, Art for Humanity, hosted by the Durban University of Technology’s Faculty of Arts & Design.

“We are really pleased that we are able to grow the African industry network through the Engage @DFM programme,” says Toni Monty, Head of the Durban FilmMart. “It is fitting in our 10th edition that these partnerships have been forged, and we look forward to building the network across Africa, through further Engage conversations.”

“Awotélé is also committed to pursuing similar conversations as those that are at the centre of the think tank conversations which is why we are pleased to partner with Engage @ DFM,” enthused Claire Diao, film critic and co-founder of Awotélé.

“Being the first established international film festival in the continent, the JCC’s mission has historically been to actively showcase and promote African and Arab cinemas and their talents, thus having a kinship with DIFF. Bringing together the northernmost and southernmost festivals in Africa follows the same spirit of stimulating and strengthening South-South collaborations, and allows us to think together on the future development perspectives of the industry,” stated Nejib Ayed, JCC General Director.

“DIFF and the JCC-Carthage Film Festival are two major, unmissable and complementary festivals with unparalleled industry platforms. This promising collaboration between Carthage Pro and Durban FilmMart will offer increased networking opportunities for film projects holders, and will bridge the gap between English, Arab and French speaking countries in Africa,” said Lamia Belkaïd Guiga, JCC General Delegate and Artistic Director, who, alongside her colleague Samia Labidi, travelled to Durban for the occasion.

“Carthage Pro and Durban FilmMart are linking their complementary platforms to reflect on cinema and also boost the local and regional industries. This collaboration will start at the 10th DIFF where the JCC will award a DFM project in development with an invitation to participate in CHABAKA workshop and pitching competition. The conversation of Engage @ DFM on the realities and challenges of documentary filmmaking will continue at the JCC 2019,” promised Samia Labidi, Carthage Pro Projects Development.

“Starting with Engage @ DFM, we are looking forward to walking with Engage, in their journey to bring together pan-African film practitioners in the face of vulnerable conditions in the film ecosystem on the continent,” said Abhishek Nilamber, curator. “We as UNITED SCREENS resonate with their passion and rigour to create and connect spaces for conversation, re-imagination and strategies for creating and screening cinema,” continued Laura Kloeckner, co-curator.

DFM2019: ‘The Working Writer’ masterclass with Sean Drummond

At the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), running concurrently with the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban, writer and producer Sean Drummond helmed a masterclass titled ‘The Working Writer’.

Drummond, who wrote and produced the award-winning feature film Five Fingers for Marseilles – which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival – is the co-founder of production company Be Phat Motel and the founding manager of the Cape Town leg of the well-respected shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival. An early lover of the written word, Drummond graduated from the University of Cape Town with Honours in Screenwriting. Additionally, he is a 2011 Talents Durban alumnus – a 5-day intensive development programme for emerging African filmmakers that runs during DIFF in collaboration with Berlinale Talents – making him a fitting host for this masterclass.

During the masterclass, Drummond discussed his 15-year journey as a screenwriter, encompassing many challenges, failures, wins and most importantly what he’s learned through it all. Drummond says that for him, in order to succeed in the industry, relationships are key as “filmmaking is the most collaborative art form – no film is made by just one person”. He continues: “It’s all relationships…because it’s about who you want to work with, who you want to go on a journey with, who do you know that’s going to open that first door, who do you know that’s going to keep opening those doors but most importantly, who do you want to work with for potentially 10 years on a project… If you don’t like each other, you have to at least respect each other.”

Drummond also shared some key insights on screenwriting through his personal process:

  1. Research: Think and learn about the world of your story as much as you can. Travel if you can, talk to people who know more than you do.
  2. Fill your story bank with all that you’ve learned during your research phase.
  3. Outline your script as much as possible: Outline the perspectives of all your characters. Outline character arcs – including each character’s hopes, dreams, desires and wants.
  4. Think on a logline. This will help you to talk about/pitch your film to people. It also acts as a beacon to come back to when you lose your way while writing.
  5. At this point, send what you have written to people you trust.
  6. Think seriously on their feedback and how to incorporate it if you agree.
  7. Write your first draft.
  8. Rewrite until you are happy: Be prepared to cut. Ask yourself “how can I make this better”.

DFM 2019 is currently running until 22 July, while DIFF will run until 28 July.




Celebrated director Mandlakayise Walter Dube announces Black Samurai One: Legend of Yasuke at DFM2019

Celebrated director/producer Mandlakayise Walter Dube (Rivonia Trial and the 2017 award-winning feature film Kalushi) presented his new film in development Black Samurai One: Legend of Yasuke to media and filmmakers at this year’s Durban FilmMart (DFM).

The film is the fourth instalment from the Legends of Freedom series, which includes the upcoming Silverton Siege shooting later this year.

The Yasuke screenplay is being written by novelist and screenwriter Sabelo Mgidi, who is currently on the second collaboration with Dube. The screenplay is being developed in partnership with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Film Commission, with the support of the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC).

“The project is another opportunity for the film commission to achieve its vision of positioning KwaZulu-Natal as a globally competitive, diverse and sustainable industry and choice film destination. It is also the objective of the film fund to invest in development of content which has commercial viability and content that will showcase local KZN content locally and internationally,” says analyst Teboho Petersen who is overlooking the script development process for KZNFC.

“Yasuke will not be like Kalushi, a rather historical drama. Yasuke is going to grab the youth like no other South African movie has before. The movie is meant to feed the hunger of our country that has so longed for a hometown hero to be celebrated in full view and accepted internationally,” says Walter Ayres who co-produced Kalushi.

The script is being edited by veteran filmmaker Ntshcavheni Waluruli of The Wooden Camera, Elelwani, and Chikin Biznis.

Professor Hiraku Kaneko is the history consultant on the screenplay and is based at the Historio-graphical Institute at the University of Tokyo specializing in the Sengoku era and historical materials of the time of Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Yasuke will be the first time that South African filmmakers co-produce a project with Japanese filmmakers.

“We are pleased that Mandla Dube has selected to attend the DFM to use this industry platform to showcase his new film in development, and to use the networking opportunities that the Mart affords delegates,” says Toni Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office and Durban FilmMart.

South African based Pambili Media is producing the film and seeking international sales representation and distribution. Locally the film is with Indigenous Film Distribution.

DFM2019: KZNFC talks micro-budget filmmaking – challenges and solutions

On day-one of the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM) – currently running until 22 July at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban, South Africa – the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC) presented a session on micro-budget filmmaking in KwaZulu-Natal and the challenges that local filmmakers face when making these films.

The major outcome of the session was the announcement of the KZNFC’s ‘Made for TV’ or micro-budget film programme. The initiative was launched after the commission conducted research on micro-budget filmmaking in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

The KZNFC’s research found that the made-for-TV/micro-budget film industry in KwaZulu-Natal faces the following challenges:

  • Poor story quality
  • Lack of reliable skills
  • Development and production delivery turnaround times
  • Lack of administrative capacity
  • Slow improvement in quality
  • Informal production process
  • Unreliable distribution methods
  • Flooding by Tier 5 practitioners

These findings led to the birth of the Made for TV initiative which is the brainchild of the KZNFC’s Film Fund. The objective of the Film Fund is to stimulate the growth of the film industry in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, solely targeting KwaZulu-Natal-based companies and companies producing films in the province. The Film Fund provides, Development Funding, Production Funding, Marketing and Distribution Funding, and Markets and Festival Funding.

KZNFC Production Development manager, Simphiwe Ngcobo said that the Made for TV programme is a “quality boost” initiative – on behalf of the KZNFC and its Film Fund – specifically targeting micro-budget films. With this in mind, the KZNFC has reserved an impressive 40% of its funding budget this year for made for TV/micro-budget films.

Scope of the Made for TV programme:

  • The initiative aims to empower KwaZulu-Natal-based filmmakers to create TV films of competitive quality.
  • The programme will address the issue of low-quality films produced through financial, structural, mentorship and resource support.
  • The programme will encompass a specific call for Made for TV film proposals.
  • Over a period of 12 months, successful applicants will refine their proposals, develop scripts, and produce and deliver TV films of 60min in length. This process will be guided by industry professionals, practitioners and the KZNFC’s production and development team.

Ngcobo said that all this couldn’t be done without the programme’s vital industry partners, namely the SABC, KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF), and the Durban Film Office (DFO).

For more information visit the KZNFC website.

The DFM is the industry arm of the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), currently taking place at various venues in and around Durban until 28 July.

Cast and crew set to attend world premiere of Back of the Moon at DIFF 2019

Back of the Moon will have its World Premiere at the Durban International Film Festival – 19 July at 7.30pm – at Suncoast CineCentre, with the cast, director and key crew in attendance.

Back of the Moon is directed by Academy Award® nominee, Angus Gibson and stars Richard Lukunku, Moneoa Moshesh, Lemogang Tsipa, Siya Zulu and Thomas Gumede, set in 1958 Sophiatown. On the eve of his home being demolished by apartheid police, Badman a notorious gangster decides to fight them to the death. But then Eve, a gorgeous torch singer is thrust into his orbit. On the last day of his life Badman finds something worth living for.

Commenting on the gala screenings, Videovision Entertainment’s director of Acquisition and Distribution, Sanjeev Singh said, “We are thrilled to have the World Premiere of Back of the Moon at the 40th edition of the Durban International Film Festival. Back of the Moon gives us an authentic snapshot of life in Sophiatown, an area of Johannesburg that was a hub of black intellectualism and a hotbed of political activity which was destroyed by the apartheid state.”

Videovision Entertainment will also be screening SARAFINA!, MORE THAN JUST A GAME and FREEDOM SQUARE AND BACK OF THE MOON in DIFF’s commemorative section, Celebrating 25 Years of Democracy.

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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