A dance scene from the movie, Bhai’s Cafe, starring Siv Ngesi and Suraya Rose Santos. Picture: Supplied
A dance scene from the movie, Bhai’s Cafe, starring Siv Ngesi and Suraya Rose Santos. Picture: Supplied

6 films to look out for at #DIFF40

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Jul 18, 2019

Share this article:

The 40th Durban International Film Festival starts on Thursday. Choosing from more than 200 local, international and foreign-language films, documentaries and short films on offer can be a daunting task, so we’ve helped narrow it down by providing a guide to six of the best.

This year, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) hits a milestone as it celebrates its 40th anniversary with promises of being even bigger and better than previous years. On the programme for Africa’s largest film festival are more than 180 screenings from across the world, to take place throughout Durban including township areas where cinemas are non-existent. Here’s our pick of six favourites.


Directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka, "Knuckle City" will open Diff Starring Bongile Mantsai, Thembekile Komani, Faniswa Yisa, Patrick Ndlovu, Siv Ngesi, Owen Sejake, Angela Sithole, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Zolisa Xaluva, the story follows the journey of Dudu Nyakama, a down-and-out ageing boxer as he struggles to attain the one fight he believes will uplift his fractured family. Aware that the underbelly of the boxing world is rife with criminality, Dudu enlists the help of his reckless but resourceful, gangster brother who’s coming out of jail. Haunted by the ghost of their father, Dudu soon finds that the fight at home is far more challenging than any opponent in the ring. 

Screening times: Thursday at 7pm at the ICC and Friday at 4.30pm at Gateway. 


Directed by Maynard Kraak, "Bhai’s Café" is about family, love and urban gentrification. Picture: Supplied

Directed by Maynard Kraak, "Bhai’s Café" is about family, love and urban gentrification. It will close the festival. The film centres on the Patel family and their café, the cornerstone of the Wynberg community in Cape Town. The café comes under threat from a ruthless property developer, as Bhai’s daughter, Rashmi, is swept off her feet by Patrick, the son of the property magnate. Bhai and his family rally the community to square off with the developer to save the business. The film stars Siv Ngesi with Suraya Rose Santos as his love interest. Screening times: July 27 at 7pm at Gateway. 


Set in 1958, Richard Lukunku plays Badman, an intellectual and the leader of the most powerful gang in Sophiatown. He lives life on his own terms in the crazy, cosmopolitan, half demolished ghetto on the edge of Johannesburg, when police force residents of Gerty Street out of their homes. They will be trucked to a desolate township, 16km from the city. Refusing to face the bleak reality of black South African life, Badman decides he will fight to the death for his home. Moneoa Moshesh, who plays Eve Msomi, a torch singer, is Badman’s love interest. 

Screening times: Friday at 7.30pm at Suncoast and Sunday at 8pm at Musgrave. 


Michael Suter is a mysterious and lonely guy, constantly in motion as a means of escaping his true self. During the day, he travels through Switzerland, creating new identities and evaluating the quality of customer service in luxury stores and hotels. At night, he secretly observes the life of another lonely person: Anna, a widow struggling with grief. After Anna discovers his obsession with her, a strange relationship between the two develops and Michael begins to impersonate her dead husband. 

Screening times: Saturday at 2.15pm at Musgrave and July 26 at 4pm at Gateway. 


The movie won the Jury Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. It tells the story of Stéphane who has joined the Anti-Crime Brigade in the Paris suburb of Montfermeil. Alongside his new colleagues, he discovers that the tension between neighbourhood gangs are running high. When the team find themselves overrun during an arrest, a drone captures their every movement. The film explores contemporary Montfermeil, the place where novelist Victor Hugo chose to set Les Misérables in 1862. 

Screening times: Sunday at 5.30pm at Gateway and July 25 at 8.30pm at Suncoast. 


Buddha in Africa - Trailer from CAT&Docs on Vimeo.

Nicole Schafer’s documentary about a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Malawi poses complex questions about race, imperialism, faith and culture. Set against the backdrop of China’s growing influence in Africa, the film focuses on Enock, a Malawian teenager from a village caught between the two worlds of his traditional African culture and the strict discipline of Confucianism. Buddha in Africa offers a subtle exploration of the impact of soft cultural power on the identity of a boy and his community. 

Screening times: Saturday at 4pm at Musgrave and July 25 at 6.30pm at Suncoast. 

The 40th Durban International Film Festival is presented by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts and runs from July 18 to 28. 

Share this article:

Related Articles