Durban Film Festival changes

A scene from the official opening of the 2019 Durban International Film Festival. This year’s festival will be an online event.


THIS year’s Durban International Film Festival will be an online affair as a result of Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. It will be presented from September 10 to 20.

“For the first time in its 41-year history, Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) will go virtual,” said a spokesman, adding that this year the event will screen more than 50  films, the international nature of the festival balanced with a highlighted component of the finest of African cinema.

“DIFF is one of the premier platforms for the launch of African films. It has a competition for fiction feature films, documentaries and short films. The festival is committed to quality programming and is profiling and showcasing some of the best 2020 has on offer.”

In addition to film screenings, the festival aims to include innovative ways of connecting with filmmakers and audiences online. Also, the yearly awards will resume as normal.

The festival will offer an industry programme with seminars and workshops comprised of both local and international filmmakers and industry professionals, with the Isiphethu Hub running from September 14 to 18.

“Isiphethu Hub remains an exciting space for local audiences and will offer a series of workshops, schools programmes and an exchange of ideas by experts from across the world who will be part of the DIFF this year.

“Isiphethu is a melting pot for the exchange of ideas and uplifting emerging and aspirant film-makers across the province of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa as a whole. We are excited about this year’s programme despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic” says Sakhile Gumede, project co-ordinator for Isiphethu.

The festival is to partner with Festival Scope in partnership with Shift 72 to facilitate the screenings.

“Of course, we all want to get back into the cinema, but since we are not able to, we need to adapt to this new virtual world swiftly. All creative industries are finding innovative ways to connect with their audiences, so we believe film festivals must also adapt.” says Chipo Zhou, head of programming.

The festival, the programmer for which will be announced later, is organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, together with US Consulate, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission and other partners.

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