Closing DIFF is LGTBI love story titled Rafiki.

Over the next few days, the city will draw people for the 39th Durban International Film Festival, which starts on July 19. 

Directors, producers, actors and film buffs will swoop in from all over the world to dissect the latest industry offerings and trends, with some hoping to bag awards. This year, 180 feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the globe will be screened at seven commercial venues and nine free public venues across the city. 

Two diverse films open and close our festival this year: a South African psychological thriller/horror The Tokoloshe, and a love story from Kenya, Rafiki. Both tell uniquely African stories about women, setting the scene for a festival that continues to celebrate the role women play in the business – as film-makers, storytellers and business people. 

Opening the festival this year is The Tokoloshe, directed and co-written by South African director Jerome Pikwane. Closing the 10-day festival is an LGTBI love story titled Rafiki. Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, and starring Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, it is about a relationship between women during political turmoil in Nairobi. DIFF manager Chipo Zhou said these two diverse films, with women as their focus, were chosen because the festival wanted to showcase the strength and resilience of women. 

“We wanted to book-end DIFF with films that tell stories about women. We also wanted to reflect the fact that there are many ways to tell these stories from a cinematic point of view,” said Zhou. “We are living in a time of diversity, in which women, racial minorities and LGBTI communities who have traditionally been underrepresented in film are having their voices brought to the fore. Referencing this global narrative, the films in this year’s festival will reflect these new voices as much as possible,” she said. 

With about 400 film-makers in attendance, the public could look forward to some fascinating insight to cinema. Other South African films on the billing include Durban film-maker Michael Cross’s award-winning The Fun’s Not Over, which is about the life of musician James Philips, and Eubulus Timothy’s warm, coming of-age surf love story, Deepend

Sisters of the Wilderness is Karin Slater’s inspiring film, which is set in the iMfolozi Wilderness and follows five young Zulu women on a journey of self discovery. Also, there are Oscar nominated director Darrel Roodt’s horror Siembamba and Stephina Zwane’s comedy Baby Mamas, which revolves around the daily lives and loves of four women and their own real-life baby mama drama. 

Plus Leli Maki’s comedy Table Manners, in which a wife and mother finds solace and hope in cooking, learning that all she needs is life’s three courses: family, food and love.