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A Pietermaritzburg-born film-maker who had been petrified that seats for the screening of his work would be empty, went on to win best South African documentary at the Durban International Film Festival.
Bryan Little, director of The African Cypher, yesterday spoke of how he went from having no expectations of scooping an award, to attracting the interest of international distributors.
Countries including Kenya, Germany, Australia, China and France entered the 33rd festival, which Little described as “by far the best we’ve got in South Africa”.
Organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts and with the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund as its principal funder, the festival recognised the best in 18 categories.
Little, 31, said the subject of his documentary – street dance – was inspired by an interest in pantsula and previous work with B-boys for a Discovery Channel project.
The lives of a number of dancers were filmed for a year.
“The final impression is one of joy,” Little said about the story he was trying to tell. “The dancers also found a sense of purpose, in that what they do is not something fun for an afternoon, but a career.”
Little explained that the word “cypher” in the documentary title referred to a circle in B-boy culture. It was believed that all forms of dance and expression originated from around the circle that is the African fire. He added that B-boys dance in circles.
Little, who also makes commercials, said he hoped to make a feature film in the next two years.
Best SA feature film at the festival was awarded to Adventures in Zambezia.
Of the large number of SA films screened this year, the jury’s praise for Adventures in Zambezia was unanimous for its strong writing and direction. It also scored points for beautiful animation that told an African story from an African perspective while appealing to a global audience.
Yesterday was the final day of festival screenings.