Durban - The Durban International Film Festival has launched its programme for it 40th edition which takes place from July 18 to 28. It includes 150 films comprising 74 feature films, 25 documentaries and 90 shorts plus the Wavescapes festival with 19 films focussed on surfing and water culture.

The festival opens this year with South African director Jahmil X T Qubeka’s Knuckle City, a riveting exploration of the psychology of a fighter from Mdantsane township outside East London. It is produced and edited by award-winning Layla Swart of Yellowbone Entertainment, together with Mzansi Magic.

“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 are a failure," said Qubeka. "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.”

Feature films that are in competition this year include:

Love Runs Out: (South Africa) Directed Roger Young, the polyamorous reverie of Julie and her "bestie" from school, Jan, who share a Kloof street flat and work in a hip little Cape Town restaurant. When Troy, local "fuc boi" and sometimes drug dealer, that they’re both crushing on, needs a place to stay, they offer him their couch.

Back of the Moon: (South Africa) Set in Sophiatown in 1958, Angus Gibson’s movie is a gangster tale with a love story. Badman, an intellectual that could have been one of our country’s great leaders, is compromised by a sharp, dark streak and has instead become a gangster feared on the streets. But when his home is about to be taken from him, he is determined he will not be taken alive.

Cronofobia: (Switzerland) directed by Francesco Rizzi a psychological drama about suspended identity detailing the relationship between Michael, a test customer in stores and hotels who is usually paid to watch and the unapproachable Anna who does not want to face reality. It is the haunting chronicle of an impossible love characterised by poetic imagery and psychological depth.

Divine Love: (Brazil) A drama directed by Gabriel Mascaro tells the story registry office clerk who uses her position at the births, deaths and marriages department to try to dissuade couples from getting a divorce.

Rwanda: The Untold Story: (Italy) Riccardo Salvetti offers a new take on the Rwandan genocide, through the first person experience, using live dramatic performance, intertwined with filmic reality

Solace: (USA) Tchaiko Omawale’s moving and artful portrait of a smart, driven, and self-destructive teenage orphan struggling to find her place.

Vai: (New Zealand) by director Marina Alofagia McCartney is a portmanteau feature film by 9 female Pacific filmmakers and filmed on seven Pacific islands. It is about the journey of empowerment through culture over the lifetime of one woman, Vai.

The Rib: (China) Auteur, Zhang Wei’s The Rib is about the strained relationship between a young man wanting a sex change operation, and his Christian father.

Mokalik: (Nigeria) Director Kunle Afolayan follows an 11-year-old boy from the middle-class suburbs who spends the day as a lowly apprentice at a mechanic workshop in order to view life from the other side of the tracks. 

Venues include Suncoast Cine Centre, Musgrave Ster Kinekor, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Denis Hurley Centre, EKhaya Multi-Arts Centre, Max’s Lifestyle, Ohlange Museum, Tate’s Kasi Grill, Artizen Lounge, KZNSA, Bay of Plenty Lawns (Wavescapes Opening), Ushaka Marine World, Luthuli Museum, K-cap, Garden Court.

The Independent on Saturday