This year, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), the leading event of its kind on the African continent, is once again bringing film-lovers and filmmakers from across the globe to the city of Durban for a feast of the latest and greatest that cinema has to offer, from 19 to 29 July.
“We are in a time of diversity, where women, racial minorities and LGBTI communities who have traditionally been underrepresented in film are having their voices brought to the fore,” says Chipo Zhou, DIFF festival manager. “Referencing this global narrative, the films in this year’s festival will reflect these new voices as much as possible. Having said that, we have had a tough time selecting from the over 2000 submissions received. It is always a bittersweet process for the team, who have had to cut this number to 200.”
“Nelson Mandela once said “Fools multiply when wise men are silent”, and with recent revelations on the exploitation of women in the industry, the DIFF is rallying behind the #itsnotokay movement,” reports Zhou. “We will show public service announcements prior to each screening that have been created by SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film and Television) – the South African based NPO that works to protect and advance the cause of women in South African film and television. This is part of our contribution to the reimaging of the South African film industry. We will also screen a selection of Nelson Mandela films as a special focus, in commemoration of his centenary birthday celebrations.”
“African cinema, including the work of female directors, is exploding with the broadening of themes and cinematic styles. There is a celebration of the development of new thematic, universal and aesthetic interpretive perspectives and our selection this year is a testament to this,” enthuses Zhou.
The festival will showcase 100 fiction and documentary feature length films and a wide selection of short films and documentaries. Twenty-five films from the BRICS programme, hosted by the National Department of Arts and Culture in partnership with the National Film and Video Foundation, will run parallel to the DIFF and the Durban FilmMart (DFM).
The Durban FilmMart enters its ninth iteration in 2018 and will yet again offer a robust industry programme that is not only abreast with industry trends but aims to project beyond them. The DFM, taking place from 20 to 23 July, is a premier film industry market platform and continues to attract an extensive global network yet is firmly grounded on the African continent. This year, the DIFF and the Durban FilmMart have worked closely to synergise content with the appointment of well-known curator Russel Hlongwane to bring a joint vision to light.
The DIFF Industry Programme, which is targeted at emerging filmmakers and the general public interested in learning more about film, will provide an overview of the value chain in the film industry. This is a public programme pitched at entry level filmmakers. The programme also assumes its official title, Isiphethu, an isiZulu word meaning springs. The adoption of this title is informed by the need for the industry programme to establish an identity within and alongside the DFM. Both the Durban FilmMart and the Isiphethu Hub will have a strong focus on developing documentary filmmaking with targeted workshops and master classes – by several highly acclaimed international industry practitioners – taking place.
The educational Talents Durban, in partnership with Berlinale Talents, turns 11 this year, having attracted over 250 applications from 30 countries throughout the African continent. This year, a total of nineteen, very promising Talents Durban participants were carefully selected by an independent, international, woman-led Talents Durban alumnae selection committee. After vigilant consideration the committee selected three film critics to join Talent Press, four animation directors, six directors and six screenwriters.
“We look forward to our 39th edition, ahead of what we hope will be a significant 40th celebration in 2019,” says Zhou. “With about 600 filmmakers in attendance the public can look forward to a feast of film and some fascinating insights into the world of cinema.”