A feast for all things film starts today!
Durban, South Africa: A South African feast of film kicked off today (Thursday, 18 July) with a media briefing with partners and sponsors of two of the biggest filmic events on the continent: the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, and the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the film industry development programme of the DIFF and the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office.
The festival will open tonight with the World Premiere of the South African film Knuckle Citydirected by Jahmil X T Qubeka at the Durban International Convention Centre, and the DFM will open on 19 July, at the Elangeni and Maharani Hotels with a programme packed with panel discussions, networking events, workshops, and pitching forums.
The DFM and DIFF host around 1000 film-industry delegates and guests – mostly hailing from Africa, but also representing the industry from around the globe. The Hub of the two events is housed in the Elangeni and Maharani Hotels on Durban’s beachfront where the delegates including directors, producers, actors, financiers, investors, broadcasters, content editors, scriptwriters, academics, and film-lovers congregate to take the opportunity to network, unpack the latest film trends, hear about funding policies, look for new inspirations, investigate and resolve challenges, and connect.
The DIFF this year screens 212 documentary, feature and short films at 15 venues around the city. Included in the line up of independent cinema are themed packages in the African Perspective, 25 Years of Democracy and Decade Throwback section to push a focus on South African and African films; the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival, a microbudget section of films funded by the Durban Film Office. Of these films, 94 hail from Africa in an endeavour to celebrate, promote and develop African cinema and grow audiences.
“Since taking over the DIFF from festival founder Roz Sarkin in 1997, the Centre for Centre for Creative Arts, has worked towards making the festival an uniquely African one,” said Chipo Zhou, Manager of the DIFF. “It has been encouraging to see the increase in the number of films made for Africans, by Africans about Africans, grace our DIFF screens over the years. Partnering with the DFM has also helped galvanize an industry to develop our own narratives and creativity through the pitching forums each year.”
Speaking at the briefing, Toni Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office and Durban FilmMart said, “The making of a film is a very complex and intriguing procedure. It requires many types of personalities to bring it to life, and a variety of processes to get it onto a screen. The DFM acts as an enabler for this process and offers a model that underpins and supports the DIFF as it continues to hold a light to African content, providing an important platform for films. To date, 200 projects have been pitched at the DFM. As we celebrate 10 years of the DFM it is very exciting to see the alumni films having their premieres at the DIFF and making waves across the globe.”
The DIFF and DFM have worked closely this year to consolidate its offering so that a broad spectrum of filmmakers and film-lovers are given access to screenings of films, and to learning more about the making and business of film.
With this in mind, a dynamic free programme, called the Isiphethu Hub, takes place a variety of accessible venues across the city. Isiphethu offers free screenings and workshops which cover topics such as how to get funding, scriptwriting, pitching to financiers amongst other topics over nine days from 19 to 27 July.
Complementing this is another free programme, the DFM’s Creative Corner, which takes place at the Maharani Hotel. This Creative Corner programme is presented by professional make-up, set and costume co-ordinators and designers with experience on major TV productions such as Uzaloand Imbewu. Both the Isiphethu Hub and Creative Corner programmes are open to all.
“We would like to acknowledge and thank partners and sponsors for their support of the DIFF programme, as well as for those who, by supporting the DFM, understand that before a film reaches the screen, there is a whole economy and business process that precedes it,” said Toni Monty.
The briefing ended with Zhou, on behalf of the DIFF, signing the 50/50 by 20/20 Pledge, the global movement to drive equality within workplaces. The Pledge is being locally supported by Sisters Working in Film and Television, an organization that had its birthplace at the DIFF, which is committed to empowering women in the industry.
For the full DIFF programme www.cca.ukzn.ac.za
For the DFM (DFM, Isiphethu and Creative Corner) programme www.durbanfilmmart.com