The 37th Durban Intl. Film Festival wrapped Saturday night with an awards ceremony that was followed by the closing film, Marco Del Fiol’s “The Space in Between: Marina Abramovic and Brazil,” a documentary about the acclaimed performance artist’s search for spiritual healing in South America.
The award for the Best Feature Film went to “The Violin Player,” by Bauddhayan Mukherji, which the jury described as “a seductive and mysterious tale of a violin player’s mundane life, and an interesting take on how chance encounters are almost predestined.”
The award for Best South African Feature Film went to Meg Rickards’ “Tess,” which the jury heralded as “a measured and uncompromising debut feature.”
“Martha and Niki,” directed by Tora Mkandawire Martens, won the award for Best Documentary, with the jury calling it a “visual feast that skillfully intertwines a profound reflection on (an) art form with the inner journey of two compelling characters.” The jury also made a special mention of “Action Commandante,” by Nadine Cloete, for “its exceptional quality and commitment to its subject matter.”
The Best South African Documentary went to “The Journeymen,” directed by Sean Meterlekamp, which opened the fest June 16, and was praised as a “strong and uncompromising cinema that is simultaneously disturbing and life-affirming.”
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Best Short Film went to “Grandma’s Day (Dzie’n Babci),” directed by Milosz Sakowski, with a special mention for “Ave Maria,” by Basil Khalil.
The Best African Short Film Award, which is supported by the Gauteng Film Commission, went to “New Eyes,” directed by Hiwot Admasu.
“eKhaya (Home),” by Shubham Mehta won the Best South African Short Film award, which is also supported by the Gauteng Film Commission.
The shorts jury also made special mention of two other films: “Amagugu,” directed by Ndududo Shandu, and “Discovery of Fire,” directed by Gerhard Pretorius.
The Best Actor Award went to Mohsen Namjoo for his performance in “Radio Dream,” directed by Babak Jalali. The award for Best Actress went to Christia Visser for her role in “Tess.”
The award for Best Direction went to Ciro Guerra for “Embrace of the Serpent,” while Guerra and Thoedor Koch-Grunberg also won Best Screenplay. Best Cinematography went to Chris Lotz, for “The Endless River.”
A new award for Best Editing, sponsored by the South Africa Guild of Editors, went to Linda Man, for “Tess.” The award for Artistic Bravery was given to Gabriel Mascaro’s “Neon Bull,” for its unique portrayal of a little-known community of Brazilian Rodeo workers.
The Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award for the film that best reflects human rights issues, which comes with a cash prize donated by the Artists for the Human Rights Trust, went to “Noma,” directed by Pablo Pineda.
The international jury this year was made up of four jurors: Bianca Balbuena, an award-wining producer from the Philippines; Fibby Kioria, the program director of Maisha Foundation, an initiative founded by Mira Nair to empower filmmakers in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda; Sherif Awad, a film critic who currently works for the Luxor African Film Festival; and Trevor Steele Taylor, a former programmer for the Cape Town International Film Festival, the Weekly Mail & Guardian Film Festival, and the Durban Intl. Film Festival, who’s currently the curator for film at the National Arts Festival.
The South African feature film jury consisted of filmmakers Jahmil Qubeka and Melissa Parry, while the documentary jurors were filmmakers Rehad Desai, Omelga Mthiyane, and Riaan Hendricks. The short film jurors were filmmakers Neil Coppen and Sumayya Rawat.
The Amnesty Jury consisted of Coral Vinsen, Nonhlanha Mkhize, Betty Rawheath, and Mark Povall.