Saturday night meant another feather in the cap for Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy, whose Arab-language social satire “Feathers” took the Best Film prize on the awards night of the 5th Joburg Film Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. His story centers on a father who literally turns into a chicken during a magic show at a son’s birthday party.
“Feathers,” also written by Zohairy, was winner of Cannes Critics’ Week in 2021 and bagged awards at the El-Gouna Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival and Pingyao Film Festival, as well as last year’s Rabat International Author Film Festival.
Meanwhile, “Faya Dayi,” the monochrome docu-drama from first-time Mexican-Ethiopian director Jessica Beshir, about growing the khat plant in Ethiopia, scooped the prize in the Best African Film category at the glitzy in-person ceremony, which took place inside the Nelson Mandela Square’s Theatre on the Square in Johannesburg.
The fest’s Best Documentary honors went to the searing “We, Students,” Rafiki Fariala’s feature directorial debut from the Central African Republic. The film offers a harsh and unflinching gaze on the horrific environment the filmmaker and his friends encounter on the campus of the University of Bangui, where issues ranging from academic corruption to sexual harassment are rife amidst terrible living conditions.
The Young Voices award went to “Young Shepherd” from George Temba.
“The jury process for 2023’s Joburg Film Festival was an amazing meeting of minds of a highly experienced and diverse African team of filmmakers,” said juror Njoki Muhoho.
“During the deliberations, the diversity of knowledge and skills in storytelling came into play. The respect for fellow filmmakers’ craft was evidenced in the discipline and attention in which we screened and watched the films. The hours were long but as intense and pleasurable. The result was unanimous agreement on the three category winners of the JFF 2023.”
The complete list of winners:
Best Film: “Feathers”
Best African Film: “Faya Dayi”
Best Documentary: “We, Students”
Young Voice: “Young Shepherd”
The African paycaster MultiChoice also co-presented five MultiChoice African Storyteller Awards:
Emerging Storyteller Award: Siphosethu Tshapu (The Milton Empire)
Global Storyteller Award: Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon (Tshedza Pictures)
Fearless Storyteller Award: Chris Q. Radebe (Match Point)
Rising African Star Award: Star Kganki Mphahlele (Pula Bakgaga Media)
Anansi Award: Connie Chiume