……BY BILLY SUTER……
THE 42nd Durban International Film Festival, now offering free streamings of feature films, documentaries and shorts – and online due to the Covid-19 pandemic – officially opened yesterday and will continue until August 1.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts is hosting the event which is also hosting seminars and workshops, all virtually.
The festival’s opening film last night was an indie feature, The Eagle’s Nest by Cameroonian-British director Olivier Assoua. Shot in Cameroon, it tells a story that touches on immigration.
Marketing manager of the festival, Marlyn Ntsele, said during a welcoming speech before last night’s screening: “I kept on thinking about the knocks that the film industry had to take and how the film industry showed their resilience throughout this pandemic. I believe the festival owes it to those filmmakers to keep going, as film festivals play an essential role in the value chain”.
She further expressed her gratitude to all the sponsors and partners and encouraged audiences to continue sharing their film tips and reviews on social media.
Feature programmer Firdoze Bulbulia said: “We want to thank the filmmakers who, under such extreme challenges like the pandemic, were still able to create feature films. We encourage the audiences to get online and watch as many films as possible.”
As director of The Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival, Bulbulia also curated a children’s film programme for the festival, consisting of 10 films selected explicitly for young viewers, and three workshops as part of the Isiphethu programme.
“We are delighted to be celebrating and commemorating Mandela‘s legacy and to continue to use his work to inspire the next generation. We believe that film is a unique medium that can entertain, educate and inform. We have films and participants from South Africa, India, Poland, The Netherlands, Iran, Germany, the US, Argentina, Egypt, Serbia and France. The festival, therefore, acts as a platform for empowering young South Africans to participate in the global dialogue on film and media,” said Bulbulia.
Among interesting films to be seen this year is Firebird, a touching love story, based on truth and set in the Soviet Air Force during the Cold War. Sergey, a troubled young private, is counting the days until his military service ends. His life is turned upside down when a daring fighter pilot, Roman, arrives at the base. Driven by curiosity, Sergey and Roman navigate the precarious line between love and friendship, as a dangerous love triangle forms between them and Luisa, the secretary to the base Commander.
Also check out Granada Nights, a love letter to Granada that mixes documentary with fiction to create a real and authentic, heartfelt examination of the process of self-discovery. It’s about a British tourist stuck in Granada, Spain, with a broken heart. Feeling lost and abandoned, he befriends a group of young foreigners and crashes into the heart of the international student scene. He pushes himself out of his comfort zone and tries to restart his life but behind every corner is a reminder of his ex-girlfriend and his struggle to find closure.
NOTE: The full festival programme, alongside all the films that will be screening, is accessible through www.durbanfilmfest.com. Tickets for the virtual screenings are only available from South Africa and are free and accessible through a booking system.
All workshops and seminars take place between July 26 and 30 July and are accessible free through Zoom and streamed live on Facebook. Find the entire programme and register for the Zoom Room here: https://ccadiff.ukzn.ac.za/isiphethu-2021-2/