Director by Atiq Rahimi takes viewers on a journey that juxtaposes religion and mythology in ‘Our Lady of the Nile’, Picture: Supplied
Director by Atiq Rahimi takes viewers on a journey that juxtaposes religion and mythology in ‘Our Lady of the Nile’, Picture: Supplied

60 shorts, doccies and feature films available at DIFF 2020

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Aug 31, 2020

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This year’s film extravaganza, The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), speaks to the historical injustices under the theme “Shifting Paradigms”.

Taking place virtually and in its 41st year, DIFF has been a custodian of great films from around the world. This year 60 shorts, documentaries and feature films will be on offer and DIFF manager, Chipo Zhou said this is a great achievement for South Africa.

“As a continent, we are immersed in our history through the stories told by our mothers and fathers and we recognise who we are now, from acknowledging where we come from,” she said.

Zhou described African storytelling as a wealth of history and tradition, an art form ingrained in our DNA passed down over generations.

“The programme mainly showcases films from the continent and those made by Africans in the diaspora as well as of African descent. The power of the audio visual medium isn’t something we can debate about. So potent, it has been used for propaganda purposes by leaders throughout history to serve their cause, it is also this power that has been the cause of their demise. We would like to harness this power and share it with the world,” said Zhou.

The plots in the carefully selected films have shown relevance to the challenges faced by the world.

“Our Lady of the Nile”, directed by Atiq Rahimi takes us on a journey that juxtaposes religion and mythology. “Ouvertures”, directed by Louis Henderson and Olivier Marboeuf, explores the social abundance and history of Haiti. “Beanpole” by Kantemir Balagov see two young women, in the aftermath of World War II, search for meaning and hope as they struggle to rebuild their lives among the ruins.

“In Your Eyes, I See my Country” where Neta Elkayam and Amit Haï Cohen live in Jerusalem where they created a band that revisits and reshapes their common Jewish-Moroccan musical heritage. The documentary, “A Rifle and a Bag” by Isabella Rinaldi, Cristina Haneș and Arya Rothe is an insightful love story that survives a decade of armed struggle and violence and “Bereka”, a short film directed by Nesanet Teshager Abegaze exquisitely explores similar themes of memory, migration and rebirth,” said Zhou about some of the films that highlights the themes.

‘Our Lady of the Nile’

In an address by newly appointed director of the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, Ismail Mahomed said although the online space can never replace the power of assembly of an audience in a cinema or theatre they believed that in this current situation it becomes a viable space through which they can continue to inspire, challenge and entertain our audiences.

“We do so with great empathy for members of the film-making industry whose projects may have been halted and whose livelihoods have been lost as a result of the global lockdowns,” he said.

Mahomed said Festivals across the globe are more than just showcases of talents and skills.

“Festivals are dynamic generators of social, cultural and economic change. A festival that wishes to be meaningful is a festival in which the artists who create for it and the audiences who consume from it are both beneficiaries because they can both witness and experience the social, cultural and economic changes that our narratives can inspire on our screens,” said Mahomed.

About the theme, “Shifting Paradigms” he said it spoke to the historical injustices, and the different ways in which healing and redress can be sought through the 21st-century lens.

“I believe that the energetic and young team at the CCA who have worked under the curatorship of Chipo Zhou have embraced the potential of what the Durban International Festival can be like with a “Shifted Paradigm” that is based on increased collaboration and partnership. I am confident that we have the support to embrace this challenge,” he said.

The full programme, alongside all the films that will be screening, will be accessible on ccadiff.ukzn.ac.za. Tickets for the virtual screenings are only available from South Africa and are free and accessible through a booking system, which will open in the next week.

Tickets for the drive-in screenings and workshops will be free and available on a booking system, however at limited capacity.

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