Durban International Film Festival Celebrates Red Carpet Opening

An  esteemed and celebrated array of filmmakers, actors, film industry professionals and arthouse film enthusiasts gathered at the Suncoast Cinema for the South African premiere of Apolline Traoré’s labour of love, SIRA, which launched  the opening of the 44th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) last night. Guests from organisations such as BASA, Goethe Institut, French Institute of South Africa, KZN Film, National Film and Video Foundation, Netflix, and University of KwaZulu-Natal were present. As well as filmmakers and producers such as Carolyn Carew, Gabriella Blumberg, Ian Gabriel, and Layla Swart, the night also saw a number of actors in attendance, including Abdul Khoza, Angel Zuma, Baby Cele, Melusi Mbele, and Nolwazi Ngubeni. 

The South African premiere of SIRA marked the beginning of 10 days of films, discussions, and workshops that will captivate Durban audiences with a stunning programme of 90 feature films, documentaries, and short films at the Suncoast Cinema. A community and student programme which includes free screenings and workshops will take at the KZNSA as part of the festival’s Isiphethu programme.

The screening of SIRA was followed by a Q&A  led by renowned film producer Layla Swart. The film’s director Apolline Traoré emphasised: “It humbles me that a few years ago, I had my short film screened here and tonight, we are here, and our featuring film is opening DIFF2023.”

Presented by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts the Durban International Film Festival aims to shine a spotlight on the vibrant film industry on the African continent. The buzz and enthusiasm at the screening set the tone for what promises to be an exciting festival, showcasing the best of African and international cinema

This year’s fully live festival returns to the traditional style of film viewing, as championed and curated by DIFF Manager and Head of Programming, Andrea Voges, “We want audiences to fall in love with the film experience in cinema all over again. The festival gives us a chance to explore the best of international cinema on the big screen, where these films are meant to be seen”, she said.

The French Ambassador-Designate, Mr David Martinon also graced the opening night of the film festival to show the Embassy’s and the French Institute of South Africa’s support for the festival. A selection of films co-produced in France, including ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY, MERCY, OMEN, RETURN TO SEOUL, SIRA, ATIVIO, PIECES OF WOOD and ON THE EDGE will feature at the festival.

The 44th edition of DIFF will come to a close on the 30th of July, with the screening of French-language film, BANEL AND ADAMA, this co-production of France, Senegal and Mali, directed by Ramata-Toulaye SY, tells the moving story of two people deeply in love who decide to live apart from their families, causing disruption in their community. 

Director Ramata-Toulaye SY will attend the screening, providing festival patrons with a special opportunity to gain insight into the filmmaking process and the universal themes explored in this compelling story of love against the odds. BANEL AND ADAMA made its world premiere at the prestigious 76th Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, where it screened in the official competition.

Another festival  highlight will be the attendance of German actor Thomas Schubert for the south African premiere screening of AFIRE. The screening is supported by the German Embassy and will be attended by the German Ambassador to South Africa, Andreas Peschke. AFIRE won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2023.  

The 44th Durban International Film Festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, is presented with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, Kwazulu-Natal Film Commission, the Durban Film Office, the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the Avalon Group. Special receptions to mark the media launch and the official opening of the festival were sponsored by the eThekwini Municipality and Business Arts South Africa (BASA) respectively. 

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