DEVELOPING audiences in the arts is as important as development in the industry itself because the young audiences of today are tomorrow’s art supporters.
It is therefore encouraging to see that major arts events now include family-oriented content on their programmes.
This year, although most of the content is aimed at adult audiences, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) has included a few productions that are family friendly.
I’ll start with two we were able to preview:
• AMAZONIA: This film tells the tale of a tame Capuchin monkey (Sai) who is unaware of the natural world until the plane that he is being transported in crashes in the Amazon basin. Sai wanders into the great unknown and makes some interesting discoveries along the way as he becomes something of a nature explorer – discovering strange animals, birds, insects and different foods.
But it’s not all sunshine in the wilderness as Sai also comes across some not-so-friendly critters. Will he survive this unknown?
Amazonia is not an animated film and the animals are not given voices. Think more along the lines of nature documentary movies like African Cats or Chimpanzee, but with added youthful adventure.
Great cinematography and a musical score enhance the thrill of the adventure.
Films like these are really great in reconnecting children and youth who are often preoccupied by the modern technologies at their dis- posal. It’s also an excellent way of allowing their brains to do some of the thinking and fill in the blanks.
For example, there is no narration in this film, just visual observations of Sai and his journey in the wild. This is paired with up close and personal sound – literally of every movement and sound an animal or insect makes, so the viewer is transported into the film.
It’s great for creative and sensory stimulation.
Amazonia screens on July 23 at 5.30pm at Cinema Nouveau at Gateway, July 24 at 10am at Suncoast Supernova and July 27 at 1pm at Cinema Nouveau at Gateway.
• GONE TOO FAR: Aimed at the slightly older young adult, Gone Too Far is a charming coming-of-age film which interrogates issues of identity and social acceptance.
Yemi is a typical teenager trying to negotiate through life balancing issues like finding his social footing among his peers and trying to earn some street cred. Compounding this, is the popular mean-girl Armani whom he is smitten with.
On top of dealing with the usual “growing pains” kind of issues that young people face, Yemi is a British-Nigerian who is trying to establish himself among the “in” crowd – something his very traditional mother is making difficult for him to do – and it’s about to become even harder.
Yemi’s older brother from Nigeria arrives to stay in London.
Unlike Yemi, Iku dresses “weird” by British youth standards, he is very traditional in mannerism and the way he talks, and his naivety regarding the way immigrants are viewed there often lands him and Yemi in trouble.
Gone Too Far has taken a charming coming-of-age story and worked in issues around it that any audience, in particular older youths, would warm to.
The manner in which the film is written and directed ensures that the production is highly entertaining, while at the same time not neglecting to provoke thought on issues like race in contemporary Britain, self identity and cultural identity. But most importantly this is done in a non-preachy fashion, so the connect between the youth and the film’s subject matter is there.
Gone Too Far screens on July 18 at the Bay of Plenty lawns at 8.30pm; July 21 at 10am at Luthuli Museum and July 22 at Suncoast Supernova.
The two family-friendly films we were not able to preview, but will definitely catch during the fest seem equally interesting, according to DIFF information programme.
• THE ROCKET: Tells the story of a young boy who attempts to reverse his bad luck by entering a rocket building competition. The film screens on July 20 at 4pm eKahay Multi Arts Centre in KwaMashu; July 25 at 10am at Suncoast Supernova and July 27 at 4.30pm at UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
• BLOODY BEANS: Recounts the Algerian Revolution using a band of children as its medium of expression, but despite its allegory, it is accessible to all and utterly charming and beautiful. The film screens on July 20 at 3pm at Suncoast, July 21 at 10am at Suncoast Supernova and July 22 at 6pm at Suncoast.
• For the full programme details see www.durbanfest.co.za