His new film, Knuckle City, which boasts an all star cast including Bongile Mantsai, Siv Ngesi, Zolisa Xaluva, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Patrick Ndlovu, has been chosen as the opening film at the 40th edition of DIFF.
Prolific director, Jahmil XT Qubeka is finally having his moment at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). 

His new film, Knuckle City, which boasts an all star cast including Bongile Mantsai, Siv Ngesi, Zolisa Xaluva, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Patrick Ndlovu, has been chosen as the opening film at the 40th edition of DIFF. 

The film is about the boxing scene in Mdantsane, a small town in the Eastern Cape. 

Mantsai, who many know from his exceptional work on Inxeba: The Wound and Scandal!, plays the lead role of Dudu Nyakama, an ageing boxer, struggling to get the fight that he hopes will change his family's fortunes. 

Of course there's an element of crime, gangster-ism and family strife.  


The film's trailer was released in early June. 

This is a major moment for Qubeka.  His film, Of Good Report, was famously yanked from the screens at the 2013 edition of DIFF. It had been chosen as the opening night film and was pulled by the Film and Publications Board for 'child pornography'. 

The film was eventually screened at the festival, a week later. 

Speaking about Knuckle City being chosen to open the festival, DIFF festival manager, Chipo Zhou said: "This is a film we believe will do very well as a cinema release. We are very excited to be opening with this gritty, raw film by Jahmil."

Qubeka, on being chosen, said: "It is my intention to capture the essence of life in Mdantsane and the restless pursuit of being a champion within a society that often dictates you as a failure. I am determined with this film to give audiences a glimpse into a world rarely seen, and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted individuals inhabiting our land."


2019 marks the fortieth edition of the festival and it will also be a celebration of 25 years of South Africa's democracy and the festival's slate aims to show just how far we have gone and still need to go, as a country. 

"The range of films this year reflect a changing, fast-paced world, where issues of identity and belonging, land and discrimination, love and pain- find a way to surface and hold a mirror to the world, to either gaze at, engage with or react to," said Zhou. 

The opening night will be a black tie affair, a la Cannes, Venice and Toronto film festivals. It will take place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC). 

Other films include Angus Gibson's ( Isibaya) Sophiatown drama,  Back of the Moon, co-starring Richard Lukunku, Moneoa and Sdumo Mtshali; Francesco Rizzi's Cronofobia and Rwanda: The Untold Story by Riccardo Salvetti.

The festival will be taking place at various venues in Durban from July 18 until July 28, 2019.