The Isiphethu programme is aimed at young, emerging, community arts filmmakers. Its commitment is to develop and promote an industry-relevant programme, in alignment with the curatorial strategy of the annual Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN). The Isiphethu programme plays a significant role in the skills development value chain and is a key driver of social transformation and economic empowerment in the film industry.

The Isiphethu programme was born out of a commitment to provide skills and training to young aspiring filmmakers and expose new audiences to filmmakers that represent South African demographics. Since 2016 the CCA has catered for micro-budget films as part of the DIFF programme, by 2018 the idea to merge the DIFF industry programme and other activities at the CCA took shape creating a bridge between the University, emerging filmmakers, their community and the industry.


The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal presents South Africa’s longest-running film festival: The Durban International Film Festival. A leading film festival on the African continent and an important event on the international film calendar. The Student Film Festival under the Isiphethu Programme seeks to promote student films and provide young filmmakers with relevant experience from a prestigious festival such as DIFF.


The Isiphethu International Student Film Festival is open to filmmakers currently enrolled at any tertiary institution whose film celebrates innovation, a wild imagination, courage and conviction. The Isiphethu International Student Film Festival celebrates tomorrow’s generation of legendary filmmakers today, as they shape their careers and make their first films. Two awards will be issued in this category: Best Student Film (South Africa) and Best Student Film (Global)


Isiphethu Programme 2023 is unique and offers a different experience from the previous edition. IsiPhethu brings a series of components to this dynamic experience. The Industry Development Programme sessions range from individual presentations, workshops and panel discussions and will explore topics that are relevant to the film industry.

This edition offers live and online sessions with local and international industry experts, giving insight into the local and international scene. The Isiphethu Scriptwriting Workshop will take place over a period of ten days at the CCA and will cover the basics of writing for screen to equip budding screenwriters looking to enter into the industry.

The main aim is to nurture the talent and expand the base of writers in the province. In its second year, the student festival will feature films from across the globe with a range of topics that are in line with this year’s curatorial theme, Disrupted Comforts / Unsettled Nuances.

The student films will screen at the KZNSA Gallery as well as the Suncoast Cinema and stand a chance to win two awards presented at DIFF in the category of student films – Best SA Student Award and Best Student Overall.

Isiphethu On Tour at DIFF is a programme that brings screenings and workshops to community centres around the province. This year the programme will travel to Wushwini Pan African Art Centre, Luthuli Museum, K-CAP, Denis Hurley and CAP Studios. The Isiphethu on Tour Programme is not only an extension of DIFF but is the backbone of the development and training component of the festival.


The Isiphethu Scriptwriting Workshop is aimed at aspiring screenwriters. Training film enthusiasts in the aspect of script writing has attracted many to this initiative. This ten-day workshop series aims to promote indigenous storytelling in the film industry and encourage amateur writers to continue developing their skills.

In line with UKZN’s bilingual policy to promote the use of the isiZulu language and other African languages, the festival encourages the preservation of indigenous storytelling which is significant to the history of local communities.

In line with the audience development initiative, the festival sustains a long relationship with various art community centres in the province. The centres that DIFF and the CCA have partnered with this year, as part of the On Tour programme, are Wushwini Pan African Art Centre, Luthuli Museum, K-CAP, Denis Hurley and CAP Studios. This initiative aims to work together for the benefit of the communities in Durban, and the surrounding areas in the province, by bringing filmmakers and conducting workshops during the festival. The CCA also works with these centres on other sister festivals such as the Time of the Writer and Poetry Africa. These venues will each host a screening, followed by a workshop on the process of making a film.