The fifth edition of the Joburg Film Festival, presented by MultiChoice Group, was a celebration of the film industry, locally and internationally.
On Saturday evening, the official awards ceremony was held at The Theatre on The Square in Sandton, Johannesburg. Hosted by renowned poet Lebogang Mashile, the night also saw a moving performance by Buhlendalo.
This year’s prestigious jury comprised a range of esteemed and respected international filmmakers and industry experts, including South Africa’s multi-award winning producer Carolyn Carew, Berlin based Lesotho film maker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, published author, columnist and poet Njoko Muhoho, Sundance alumni and filmmaker Mohamed Siam, and French/Egyptian director and producer Jihan El-Tahri.
The international jury named the Egyptian feature film “Feathers,” directed by Omar El Zohairy, as the ‘Best Film’ of the festival. This absurdist tale about a patriarch transformed into a chicken has a lot to say about Egyptian culture and the role of women.
The evocative black and white Ethiopian documentary “Faya Dayi,” directed, written, starring and produced by Jessica Beshir, took home the ‘Best African Film’ award.
The film is a spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar that is immersed in the rituals of khat.
“Best Documentary” was awarded to the explosive film “Nous, étudiants (We, Students”) from the Central African Republic from debut director Rafiki Fariala.
In it, the filmmaker turns the camera on himself and his friends, capturing their everyday life as students of Bangui University. At once clear-eyed and poetic, they share their thoughts about their future in the Central African Republic.
As part of the Awards Night, event partner the Multichoice Group also awarded a number of filmmakers for their excellence.
The Emerging Storyteller Award was presented to Siphosethu Tshapu (Milton Empire).
The Global Storyteller Award honours went to Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon (Tshedza Pictures).
The Fearless Storyteller Award was bagged by Chris Q Radebe (Match Pictures),
Rising African Star Award – Star was accepted by Kganki Mphahlele (Pula Bakgaga Media)
The Anansi Award was presented to Connie Chiume for her decades of contribution to the industry and to creative storytelling.
In her acceptance speech, Chiume reflected on her long journey, 45 years in the industry, and the hope that her contribution to the industry had done something for the people she had worked with, and those coming after her.
“This award says to me, don’t stop dreaming,” she said. She also thanked Multichoice for giving African actors a platform to be exposed to audiences across the globe.
“Let’s groom our own stars in Africa, let’s tell our own stories in Africa. People come here and snatch our stories, because they have money and bring their own stars.
“Because we are not grooming our own stars. Please Multichoice and Joburg Festival, let’s groom our own stars, who will be able to represent us in the world and be able to sell our work,” she urged.
Actress Mampho Brescia speaking to IOL Entertainment echoed Chiume’s desire and hope to see the “building of African stars”.
“So that we are the ones that make, bank (sic) and galvanise Africans to actually support content. Go to the theatre, watch our films, watch our stories,” said Brescia.
The former “Isibaya” actress added that local production houses should also put in the money needed for big productions to change the cycle of how talent is treated by international producers.
Film director Thabang Moleya said that the Joburg Film Festival was an important platform for Africans to celebrate each other’s work.
“I think we have such rich stories and this is a great event for us to see each other’s stories from different continents and around the world. But to also say to the world that we as storytellers of this continent, we are proud to stand together.”
The Joburg Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday with South African comedic film “The Umbrella Men” closing this year’s edition.