×

Durban Showcases African Film Renewal

34th edition bows July 18 with 'Of Good Report'

Opening on July 18, the Durban Intl. Film Festival now ranks as one of the longest running, biggest and fastest growing of major African film events and a burgeoning platform for business in South Africa and beyond.

And if Durban’s 34th edition says anything about new film production in Africa, it’s “a sense of renewal of African cinematic language,” said new festival manager Peter Machen.

In this sense, the choice of Jahmil XT Qubeka’s grisly “Of Good Report” as a curtain raiser was a statement of intent. Shot in b/w, laced by literary references — John Keats’ “Bright Star,” “Othello” are two — and described by Qubeka as a “cinephile’s passionate homage” to classic film noir, “Report” charts a English teacher’s discombobulated and soon increasingly demented obsession for a lively student with whom he begins an affair.

For Machen, “This year’s African and South African films have a freshness to them, are engaged in exploring new ways of making films.”

“Report” is “far from the Hollywood-style narratives” which often dominate local productions, Machen added, also citing Nick Reding’s Kenya’s “It’s Us,” a peace movement agit-prop film combining theater and on-location fiction, and “Tall as a Baobab Tree,” a Senegal-set forced marriage tale, which both avoid “conventional dramatic mechanisms.”

Of other recent departures for South African cinema, Durban’s “Blood Tokoloshe,” is a near no-cost township horror B movie, from South Africa’s Orange Farm.

Clocking up 40 distribution deals for Edward Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group, 3D “Khumba” weighs in at Durban as the flagship of South Africa’s burgeoning animated feature industry, plus Triggerfish Animation Studios’ follow-up to DIFF 2012 best South African film winner “Adventures in Zambezia.”

This year’s African Focus titles often turn on violence.

For Machen, however, “what is significant is the really large proportion of films about people who have made mistakes.”

In “Layla Fourie,” the third film from South African-born and Berlin-based Pia Marais whose debut, “The Unpolished,” shared Durban’s best first feature plaudit in 2007, a young polygraphist tries to assuage her guilt after a hit-and-run car accident.

Another buzzed-up title, Belfast-based Phil Harrison’s “The Good Man,” is set in the two post-conflict societies of Northern Ireland and South Africa.

“Something Necessary,” from the Tom Tykwer-backed One Fine Day Films and Nairobi’s Ginger Ink, recounts a love affair in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 violence.

“These are films about people coming to terms with violence as opposed to films just chronicling it,” Machen said.

“It might have something to do with a global society attempting to acknowledge and confront reality, rather than letting it push past us.”

Durban closes with “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,” Shola Lynch’s review of the kidnapping which brought academic and social activist Angela Davis to fame in 1970.

Peppered by world premieres, Durban’s African Focus remains its centerpiece. Other sections range over the globe, from American Independents to Contemporary Europe, Sexual Identities, Zombiefest! World Cinema and Feast of Doccies.

Durban’s main 24-title competition features prestige arthouse and crossover titles, such as, of African titles, “Layla Fourie,” and, beyond Africa, “Only God Forgives,” Chilean Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria,” and “The Past,” from Iran’s Asghar Farhadi.

Bowing in 1979 when it operated as a semi-underground event screening films banned under South Africa’s apartheid regime, the Durban Film Festival saw spectacular last-decade growth under Monica and Peter Rorvik.

Pursuing strategic partnerships, it added a parallel Wavescape Surf Film Festival in 2005, then Talent Campus Durban, teaming with the Berlinale, in 2008.

Organized with the Durban Film Office, the Durban FilmMart (DFM), a finance and co-production forum and master-class and networking event, launched in 2010. This year it will showcase 23 projects from Africa.

Non-African attendees to DIFF were in single figures early last decade. Last year, there were hundreds of invited guests from around the world. DIFF admissions ran at 32,000 last year, per Machen.

“32,000 is really quite a significant number for South Africa, where much of the population lives in townships or areas without access to cinema theaters,” said Joanna Sterkowicz, editor of Screen Africa.

Appointed in April, and a DIFF programmer for seven years, Machen certainly doesn’t want “to fix something that isn’t broken.”

New initiatives are select: a Zombiefest! spread, a first Wild Talk sidebar of nine natural history films, put on with Durban Wild Talk Africa, and a new The Films That Made Me repertory section, presented this year by Qubeka.

“African film-makers have difficult access to film history, Machen explained.

For the future, he would like to make Durban “more of a red-carpet event,” he added. He will certainly continue to bus in school children for early morning screenings.

“Many of these kids have never been in a cinema before. Watching movies with them is amazing, they’re so engaged, so caught up, attentive. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.”

34TH DURBAN INTL. FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

FILMS IN COMPETITION

“Closed Curtain,” (Jafar Panahi, Kamboziya Partovi, Iran)
“Fat Shaker,” (Mohammad Shirvani, Iran, 2013)
“Francine,” (Melanie Shatzky, Brian M. Cassidy, U.S., Canada)
“Gloria,” (Sebastián Lelio, Chile, Spain)
“Halley,” (Sebastian Hoffmann, Mexico, The Netherlands)
Laurence Anyways,” (Xavier Dolan, Canada, France)
“Layla Fourie,” (Pia Marais, Germany, South Africa, France, The Netherlands)
Of Good Report,” (Jahmil XT Qubeka, South Africa)
“Only God Forgives,” (Nicolas Winding Refn, France, Denmark)
“Penumbra,” (Eduardo Villanueva, Mexico)
“Something Necessary,” (Judy Kibinge, Germany, Kenya)
“Sunshine Boys,” (Kim Tae-Gon, South Korea)
“Tall As The Baobab Tree,” (Jeremy Teicher, Senegal, U.S.)
“The Battle of Tabato,” (Joao Viana, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal)
“The Forgotten Kingdom,” (Andrew Mudge, Lesotho, South Africa)
“The Future,” (Alicia Scherson, Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain)
“The Grandmaster,” (Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong SAR China)
“The Hunt,” (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark)
“The Land of Hope,” (Sion Sono, Japan, U.K., Taiwan, Germany)
“The Past,” (Asghar Farhadi, France, Italy)
“Wadjda,” (Al-Mansour Haifaa, Saudi Arabia, Germany)
“Watchtower,” (Pelin Esmer, France, Germany, Turkey)
“Yema,” (Djamila Sahraoui, Algeria, France)
“Youth,” (Tom Shoval, Israel, Germany, France)

AFRICAN FOCUS

“Of Good Regard,” (Jahmil XT Qubeka, South Africa)
“Free Angela – and all political prisoners,” (Shola Lynch, U.S., France)
“Layla Fourie,” (Pia Marais, Germany, South Africa, France, Netherlands)
“The Forgotten Kingdom,” (Andrew Mudge, South Africa, Lesotho)
“Felix,” (Roberta Durrant, South Africa)
“The Good Man,” (Phil Harrison, South Africa, U.K., Ireland)
“Everyman’s Taxi,” (Ian Roberts, South Africa )
“Durban Poison,” (Andrew Worsdale, South Africa)
Khumba,” (Anthony Silverston, South Africa )
“Blood Tokoloshe,” (Jordan Harland, South Africa )
“Angel of the Skies” (Christopher Lee-Dos Santos, South Africa)
“Actorholic,” (Oliver Rodger, South Africa)
“African Gothic,” (Gabriel Bologna, U.S., South Africa)
“Tall As The Baobab Tree,” (Jeremy Teicher, Senegal)
“Yema,” (Djamila Sahraoui, Algeria)
“Virgin Margarida,” (Licinio Azevedo, Mozambique, France, Portugal)
“The Battle of Tabato,” (Joao Viana, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal )
“Le Presidente,” (Jean-Pierre Beloko, Cameroon, Germany)
“Something Necessary,” (Judy Kibinge, Germany, Kenya )
“It’s Us,” (Nick Reding, Kenya)

CONTEMPORARY EUROPE

“Ginger and Rosa,” (Sally Potter, U.K., Denmark )
“The Look of Love,” (Michael Winterbottom, U.K.)
“Me and You,” (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy)

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS

“Wrong,” (Quentin Dupieux, U.S., France)
“Spring Breakers,” (Harmony Korine, U.S.)
“Francine,” (Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky, U.S., Canada)
“The Place Beyond The Pines,” (Derek Cianfrance, U.S.)

SEXUAL IDENTITIES

“Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” (Dennis Cotes, Canada)
“Valentine Road,” (Marta Cunningham, U.S.)
“Interior. Leather Bar.,” (James Franco, Travis Mathews, U.S.)
Laurence Anyways,” (Xavier Dolan, Canada)
“Dust, ” (Adam Dugas, Casey Spooner, U.S.)
“Two Mothers,” (Anne Zohra Berrached, Germany)
“The Future,” (Alicia Scherson, Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain)
“It Felt Like Love,” (Eliza Hittman, U.S.)
Una Noche,” (Lucy Mulloy, U.S., U.K., Cuba)
“Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer,” (Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkik, Russia, U.K.)
“I Am Divine,” (Jeffrey Schwarz, U.S.)
“Born This Way,” (Shaun Kadlec, Deb Tullmann, U.S., Cameroon)

ZOMBIEFEST!

“Evil Dead,” (Fede Alvarez, U.S.)
“Zombie Fever 3D,” (Kirill Kemnits, Russia)
“Halley,” (Sebastian Hoffmann, Mexico, Netherlands)
“Frankenstein’s Army,” (Richard Raaphorst, Netherlands, U.S. )
“Harold’s Going Stiff,” (Keith Wright, U.K.)

WORLD CINEMA

“The Grandmaster,” (Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong)
“Closed Curtain,” (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
“Cosmopolis,” (David Cronenberg, France, Canada)
“Outrage Beyond,” (Takeshi Kitano, Japan)
“The Hunt,” (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark)
“The Past,” (Ashgar Farhadi, France, Italy)
“Midnight’s Children,” (Deepa Mehta, Canada, U.K.)

FEAST OF DOCCIES

“The Devil’s Lair,” (Riaan Hendricks, South Africa)
“Touching The Dragon,” (Damon Foster, Craig Foster, South Africa)
“Angels in Exile,” (Billy Raftery, South Africa)
“The Creators,” (Laura Gamse, Jacque de Villiers, South Africa, U.S.)
“Drama Consult,” (Dorothee Wenner, Germany, Nigeria)
“African Metropolis,” (Various, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast)
“The Spirit of ’45,” (Ken Loach, U.K.)
“More Than Honey,” (Markus Imhoof, Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
“Algorithms,” (Ian McDonald, India)
“Fidai,” (Damien Oumouri, France, Algeria, Kuwait, Qatar, China, Germany, U.K.)

WAVESCAPE SURF FILM FESTIVAL

“Bending Colors (Jordy Smith),” (Kai Neville, South Africa, Reunion, Hawaii, Indonesia)
“Revolution,” (Rob Stewart, 15 countries)
“The Heart and the Sea,” ( Nathan Oldfield, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain)
“Immersion,” (Tim Bonython, Australia, Tahiti)
“Desert Rebels,” (Adrian Charles, South Africa)
“Water From The Moon,” (Arya Subyakto, Sumatra)

THE FILMS THAT MADE ME

“Mapantsula,” (Oliver Schmitz, South Africa, U.K.)
“Ran,” (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, France )
“Midnight Cowboy,” (John Schlesinger, U.S.)
“Quest For Fire,” (Jean Jacques Annaud, Canada, France)
“Koyaanisqatsi,” (Godfrey Reggio, U.S.)

WILD TALK DOCUMENTARIES

“2 Wings Many Prayers,” (Lloyd Ross, South Africa)
“A Return To The Sea,” (Otto Whitehead, Lauren De Vos, South Africa)
“A Wild Dog’s Tale,” (Richard Matthews, Brad Bestelink, Botswana, South Africa)
“Amazing Grace,” (Rowan Pybus, Zambia)
“Bidder 70,” (Beth Gage, George Gage, U.S.)
“Broken Tail,” (John Murray, Colin Stafford-Johnson, Ireland)
“Natural World: Queen Of The Savannah,” (Verity White, U.K.)
“Radioactive Wolves,” (Klaus Feichtenberger, Austria)
“Ten Quintillion,” (Romilly Spiers, Australia)
“The Animal Communicator,” (Craig Foster, Swati Thiyagarajan, South Africa)
“The Arctic Giant,” (Adam Schmedes, Denmark)
“The Beauty of the Irrational,” (Dean Leslie, South Africa)
“The Unlikely Leopard,” (Beverly Joubert, Dereck Joubert, Botswana)
“Treibjagd,” (Christiane Hitzemann, Germany)

OTHER FILMS
“36,” (Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Thailand)
Comrade Kim Goes Flying,” (Kim Gwang Hun, Nicholas Bonner, Anja Daelemans, Belgium, U.K., North Korea)
“Great Expectations,” (Mike Newell, U.K.)
“Mobile Home,” (Francois Pirot, France, Belgium)
“No,” (Pablo Larrain, Chile, France, U.S.)
“Rust and Bone,” (Jacques Audiard, France, Belgium)
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” (Mira Nair, India, Pakistan, U.S.)
“Bomb It 2,” (Jon Reiss, U.S.)
“Captain Kang,” (Won Ho-Yeon, South Korea)
“Casting By,” (Tom Donahue, U.S.)
“Chickens Can Fly,” (Paulene Abrey, Luaan Hong, South Africa)
“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story,” (Brad Bernstein, U.S.)
I Am Breathing,” (Emma Davie, Morag McKinnon, Denmark)
“Jeppe On A Friday,” (Shannon Walsh, Arya Lalloo, South Africa, Canada)
“Light and Dark,” (Paulene Abrey, South Africa)
“My Afghanistan: Life In The Forbidden Zone,” (Nagieb Khaja, Denmark, Norway)
“No Burqas Behind Bars,” (Nima Sarvestani, Sweden)
“Norman Catherine Curriculum Vitae,” (Paulene Abrey, South Africa)
“Orania,” (Tobias Lindner, Germany, South Africa)
“Salma,” (Kim Longinotto, U.K., India)
“State 194,” (Dan Setton, Israel, Palestinian Territories, U.S.)
“The Absent Column,” (Nathan Eddy, Filipe Lima, U.S.)

More Film

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content