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Young director wins at Cannes

Published Jul 5, 2016

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A young Cape Town film director Dan Mace, 26, has won two Silver Screens in the Young Directors Award at Cannes Film Festival in France, beating more than 400 contenders and becoming the only African to win an award.

Mace entered his documentary on rats detecting landmines in Mozambique, Mine Detection Rats and Gift, a short film about an impoverished boy who dances to the sound of his fears to alter his perception of his surroundings.

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He said he was among the three filmmakers from Africa who made the shortlist – where “I went on to win two silvers – the only African to win an award”.

Mine Detection Rats won in the Changing the world Frame by Frame category while Gift won in the Best Short Film category.

Mace said his films stood out because they are unique.

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Armed with his camera, Mace went to Mozambique in October 2015 to do a documentary on how authorities are using rats to detect buried land mines.

“Rats are saving lives in Mozambique. I was overwhelmed with inspiration from this story so it was a special one for me to direct,” he said.

He said judges could not resist the impact the documentary had on people’s lives. “The Rats film is a really authentic look at how rats are changing the world metre by square metre. The story is really touching and therefore I think the judges chose it for the award as it is truly moving and touches people.”

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Set in Khayelitsha, Gift is about showcasing the positives of altering perception.

As for the Gift he said: “This isn’t your standard talking heads film but rather poetic. The film is written in the style of a poem because I wanted to make all the mediums within the story seamless and flowing from the cinematography and the match cuts to the music – everything is organic. Therefore a rhythmic poem for me was a beautiful way to link the aesthetic and the dialogue together so that this fictional ‘fairy tale’ came to light in the most believable way.”

Mace said it was a great feeling to be acknowledged. “When I saw the first films played the standard was so high. I didn’t know if mine would be selected. I am just super stoked I won two silvers at Cannes.

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"It's definitely given me a lot of drive and raised the bar since I returned from Cannes speaking to all the other YDA award winners to see their drive and focus so I’m keen to get going with my next project,” he said.

Dan Mace’s films can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1O_vtfX1sY

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