Film festival for South African and international stories

14 July 2015

The opening film, Ayanda, at the 36th Durban International Film Festival (Diff) sets a feel-good, ‘coming of age’ theme for the first night at this year’s festival.

It will take place from 16 to 26 July. Hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, the event will attract film-lovers and industry representatives from across Africa and abroad.

“The Diff is a ten-day celebration of world class cinema which screens new feature, documentary and short films from around the globe with a special focus on African film,” says festival organisers.


Set in Yeoville, Johannesburg, Ayanda is about a 21-year-old woman who fights to save her late father’s legacy – a car repair shop – when it faces closure.

“She’s thrown into a world of greasy overalls, gender stereotypes and abandoned vintage cars once loved, now in need of a young woman’s re-inventive touch to bring them back to life again,” reads the festival’s website.

The film stars Fulu Mugovhani and Nigerian actor OC Ukeje, with a South African cast including Ntathi Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Jafta Mamabola, Thomas Gumede, Sihle Xaba and veteran star of stage and screen Vanessa Cooke.

“We are pleased that this feel-good film will open this year’s festival,” says festival director, Pedro Pimenta. “The opening film of this, the most prestigious international film event in SA, needs to reflect a clear priority established by the festival to reach and develop local audiences.”

Movie director Sara Blecher says they are very proud of the film and the team is thrilled it’s being used to open the festival. “The film had a very successful screening in Cannes last month and we look forward to screening it to festival-goers in Durban,” she says.

Ayanda celebrates the diversity of our country and revels in the fact that we are a multicultural, colourful and exciting melting pot of Africa,” says co-producer Terry Pheto. “With this film we have tried to capture the Afropolitan nature of our country and the energy of its people.”

Other screenings

The documentary Coming of Age follows teenagers over two years as they grow up deep in the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Other African documentaries include Beats of the Antonov which portrays the musical lives of a war-torn community in Sudan, Sembene! which documents the life and career of African master Ousmane Sembene, and Paths to Freedom, which explores the genesis of Namibia’s armed struggle against South Africa.

South African documentaries include Blood Lions, which follows a South African conservationist and an American hunter on their journey through the lion hunting industry, Glory Game – The Joost van der Westhuizen Story chronicles the famous rugby player’s battle with Motor Neuron Disease, and The Shore Break documents the attempts by a foreign mining company to mine titanium in the Eastern Cape.

The line-up will also feature Breathe – Umphefumlo, the Isango Ensemble’s contemporary adaptation of Puccini’s La Boheme, the low-budget horror The Actor from Aiden Whytock, and the politically inclined Bonnie-and-Clyde tale Impunity from Jyoti Mistry.

There are also a variety of themes. Diff Beat will celebrate musicals, Just One Earth will present titles on environmental sustainability, and a selection of surf films will be shown in the Wavescape Surf Film Festival.

There will also be seminars and workshops with notable industry figures.

Economic benefits

The film industry contributes R3.5-billion to the gross domestic product, says the Department of Trade and Industry.

According to the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), Leon Schuster’s Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa is the country’s highest grossing film, at R38-million.

“South Africa’s potential growth on local productions has improved over the last few years. Local film production is benefitting from increased assistance from government, co-production treaties with various countries and ordinary success of the film,” says the NFVF.

The film industry supports 25 175 full time jobs, says the foundation.

Source: SAinfo reporter