Student Films Announced for the 45th Durban International Film Festival

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced the 2024 student film programme. The festival received 478 submissions, from which twenty-one films have been officially selected to premiere at DIFF and compete for the Best Student Film and Best South African Student Film awards.

“The future of film is in good hands and these young filmmakers are not afraid to delve into the most highly charged social dilemmas of our time”, says Andrea Voges, the Programmes Manager & Head of the Durban International Film Festival.

“The films share an urgent interrogation of our personal relationships with ourselves and with each other in families and broader communities. The everlasting complexities of parental relationships are shown with a frank and piercing insight and the prevalence of loss and fear in so many lives, regardless of where in the world people live, the community they belong to or the dreams they may have is abundantly clear,”, she adds.

The six films by South African students, Cloud Line, Dirt, Fisantekraal, Rebooting Memory, Warm and Where’s the Chicken? represent a broad variety of universal themes with the common thread of reflecting a uniquely South African perspective. Fisantekraal gives a unique vantage point of the titular area not far from Durbanville, Cape Town. While the images are cinematically beautiful the end of the film and the harsh reality faced by people living there are less so. The jarring contrast between them results in an engaging and provocative film. Different aspects of grief and ways of mourning are the focus of two local films.

In Cloud Line Akhona and their father employ very different strategies to deal with the death of their mother and wife but in negotiating a compromise, they find better ways to collectively cope with the void she has left. Manqoba struggles to continue after the death of his wife Nokuthula and disappears into an alternative reality using a virtual reality device where he doesn’t have to face her loss in Rebooting Memory. Continuing with the slightly dystopian theme, Dirt occurs in a fictional universe where Rev Starrek finds herself in a strange situation after stealing what she thought was a harmless artefact. Replete with alien species and very vocal animals, this quirky animated film is a delightful futuristic adventure.

The nation’s ongoing onslaught of violence is addressed in films that both look at domestic violence. Dolly decides to leave her abusive husband, Ngozi in Warm, but not even death can protect her from his patriarchal abuse. Luyanda’s bullying at school is replicated at home where his father believes that beating him is the best way for him to become a man. The inevitable resentment resulting from these beatings is revealed when Luyanda’s father cannot find his prize rooster in Where’s the Chicken? Both films are unflinching in their portrayal of the intergenerational damage and the underlying causes of violence.

The films produced by international students also engage a broad spectrum of topics. Exotismos and Hair Care, are both set in local hair salons but are worlds apart as a young woman embarks on an animated journey through the streets of Côte d’Ivoire in search of her errant hair stylist. Yoná the hair artist in Exotismos is in search of something different, the essence of her clients with diverse identities, self-expression, and sexual orientations who are at odds with the conservative population of Goiânia, the capital of the Brazilian state of Goiás. Conservative roles of women in different societies are highlighted in two other films set in the vastly different landscapes of present-day Pakistan and a futuristic Europe.

Height of the Kite unfolds in a rural area of Balochistan in Pakistan where women are only permitted to sing in private rituals. The film follows a young woman’s struggle to challenge the established restrictions that women encounter. Paragraph 96 from Austria is a powerful commentary on reproductive rights as a mediation session between a couple takes place. In this scenario, men fall pregnant, and women are held accountable for unwanted pregnancies. The gender reversal and resultant hypocrisy makes for a thought-provoking film.

The post-apocalyptic world also features in An Ordinary Day as the end of the world approaches and two students Su-in and Jae-hee with different disabilities decide to face the looming end together. Borrowed Hands broaches the neglected topic of sexuality in the disabled community as a young woman, Clara with cerebral palsy engages the services of a sex worker to explore her burgeoning sexuality. Both films refreshingly feature disability as integral parts of the narrative and not as an afterthought.

The following is a full list of the student films that will be presented at the festival:

AN ORDINARY DAY by Ju-yeon GIM

South Korea, Korea University of Arts

BORROWED HANDS by Adrián Monroy Molina

Mexico, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, A.C.

CLOUD LINE by Minnette Faure

South Africa, The Animation School (PTY)Ltd

CONGRATULATORY VISIT by Muaz Günes

Turkey, Maltepe University

CRUST by Jens Kevin Georg

Germany, Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF

DAISY by Aditi Dixit, Joffrey Atienza Zamora, Shecid Domínguez Aguilera

Spain, BAU – College of Arts & Design Barcelona

DIRT by Blake Maverick Davis

South Africa, University of KwaZulu-Natal

DON’T LET GO by Antonia Lorenza Lindner

Germany, University of Television and Film Munich

EXOTISMOS by Alessandra Regina Gama

Brazil, Universidade Estadual de Goiás – UEG

FISANTEKRAAL by Liziwe Damba

South African, Film School Africa

HAIR CARE by Fatima Wardy

Ivory Coast, The University of Texas at Austin

HEIGHT OF THE KITE by Mehraneh Salimian, Amin Pakparvar

United States, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I, CHINESE by Keith Leung

United States, New York University

GOLDEN OCHO by Jon-David Carollo

United States, Chapman University

PARAGRAPH 96 by Sophie Maresch, Ivana Vlasich

Austria, Fachhochschule St. Pölten

REBOOTING MEMORY by Regopotswe Matshelo, Omolemo Molefe

South Africa, AFDA

SEA SALT by Leila Basma

Czech Republic, FAMU

THE HEART BENEATH THE EARTH by James Lucas

Mexico, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, A.C.

V’S SECRET by Bassma Farah

Egypt, Jesuit Cairo Film School

WARM by Lindokuhle Mthimkhulu

South Africa, AFDA

WHERE’S THE CHICKEN? by Keila Leniese Kock

South Africa, The University of the Witwatersrand

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