BY BILLY SUTER
SOUTH African movies will open and close the 38th Durban International Film Festival, the longest running film festival in Africa, which is to feature 225 movies from July 13 to 23, at venues throughout the city.
Of the films selected for screening, 74 are from South Africa, 40 from the rest of Africa, 55 from Europe, 18 from South America, eight from the Middle East, 15 from North America, eight from India and seven from Asia.
In addition to the selected films, titles have also been secured for the annual Wavescapes programme of surfing films, bringing the 2017 tally of films to almost 300.
In a year where a strong focus will be put on women at the festival, the opening movie will be Serpent, by writer-director Amanda Evans, making her feature film directing debut.
The film centres on a romantic escape to nature which turns into the ultimate moment of reckoning when a husband and wife are trapped in a tent, with a deadly snake.
Unable to escape and with certain death looming, the tent becomes a heated confessional to a cataclysmic truth. The couple find themselves spiralling into a dark and dangerous space, of which only one can escape.
The festival’s closing attraction will be the film of Mbongeni Ngema’s classic play, Asinamali, which follows the story of Lamontville township rent boycotts, led by Msizi Dube, after his release from prison.
The festival directors have said tribute will be paid to three film and music industry stalwarts this year – including the late Joe Mafela and Junaid Ahmed, and living legend, musician Abdullah Ibrahim.
Ahmed was a leading South African producer, mentor and pioneer who lost his life following a short illness at the age of 57. Mafela was a veteran South African television and film actor, writer and director; who was involved in a fatal car accident earlier this year.
Retrospective screenings of the late legends’ respective films will be played at the festival to pay homage to their contribution to the industry.
Ster-Kinekor Musgrave and Gateway cinemas, as well as the Playhouse, have been confirmed as venues for the premiere and commercial screenings; while the outreach programme will see screenings take place in film schools and townships including K-Cap in KwaMashu, Luthuli Museum in Groutville and Westville Correctional Services.
Films will also be shown at Ohlange Library in Inanda, Creative Arts College, Wushwini Arts Centre, Umlazi Library, uShaka Marine World, Max’s Lifestyle, and on the Bay of Plenty Lawns.
The week-long programme entails screenings and some workshops aimed at ensuring not just city-wide participation in the festival but also engaging, locally based prospective film-makers.
Feature films in competition include The Wound by John Trengove (South Africa, Germany, Netherlands and France), 2016; Basta by Hassane Dahani (Morocco), 2016; Light In The Dark by Kaoula Assebab (Morocco), 2016; La Soledad by Jorge Thielen Armand (Canada), 2016; and Beauty And The Dog by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia, France, Sweden, Norway, Lebanon, Qatar and Switzerland), 2017.
Also in competition are Caretaker by Alejandro Andújar (Dominican Republic, Brazil and Puerto Rico), 2017; Asinamali by Mbongeni Ngema (South Africa), 2017; Liyana by Aaron Kopp (US, Swaziland, Qatar), 2016: and Kati Kati by Mbithi Masya (Kenya, Germany), 2016.
Documentary films in competition include Hidden Photos by Davide Grotta (Italy,) 2016: Strike A Rock by Aliki Saragas (South Africa), 2017: Mama Colonel by Dieudo Hamadi (France and Congo – Kinshasa), 2017: CAMhiLOS by Dairo Cervantes (Colombia, Mexico and Argentina), Waithira by Eva Munyiri (South Africa), 2017; Dusk Chorus by Nika Šaravanja and Alessandro D’Emilia (Italy), 2016; and Skulls of My People by Vincent Moloi (South Africa), 2016.
The full programme will be available soon.