Ten venues, about 290 screenings, 80 features, 40 documentaries, 45 shorts and 10 days of bliss for movie fans – all that has been lined up for the 33rd Durban International Film Festival, running from July 19 to 29.

The festival will also offer a comprehensive workshop and seminar programme that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills by industry experts.

In addition, for the eighth |year, the festival will partner with Wavescape to offer a feast of surfing films – titles including The Sea, My Soul, Year Zero, The Africa Project, Surfing & Sharks, Rebel Sessions, Minds in the Water and the great snowboarding movie Art of Flight.

Wavescape will open with a free outdoor screening at the Bay of Plenty Lawns on Sunday, July 22, before relocating to the Ster-Kinekor Musgrave complex from Monday, July 23, to Friday, July 27, with special events at Gateway’s Wave House on July 21 and 27.

This year’s festival will open with a local drama, Elelwani, directed by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, produced by Florian Schattauer and starring Florence Masebe in the title role.

The first Venda feature film, in the Tshivenda language, it is about a progressive young woman in a rigidly patriarchal situation who must negotiate womanhood and opportunities that may offer her a chance to grow in new ways.

A local film will also close this year’s festival – Adventures in Zambezia, a 3D treat which, three years in the making, marks a landmark in the history of South African animation and features a voice cast including Samuel L Jackson, Richard E Grant, Jeff Goldblum and Abigail Breslin.

The film tells the inspiring tale of an intrepid young falcon, Kai, who seeks out a rumoured bird city called Zambezia, where he hopes to find personal prestige as a talented flyer.

But his competitive, individualist ways must give way to working together with his feathered friends in order to save the community.

While this is Kai’s story, it is also a story about a nation – a story of ubuntu.

Also worth watching among the SA films is Blitz Patrollie, a cop comedy directed by Andrew Wessels and featuring locals David Kau, Joey Rasdien, Chris Forrest, David Kibuuka, Tracey-lee Oliver, Craig Urbani and Roni Modimola.

Written by Kagiso Lediga, and produced by Diprente Films, the film is about cops Rummy Augustine (Rasdien) and his over-zealous partner, Ace Dikolobe (Kau), who are unlucky to be stationed in a little-known depot in the Joburg CBD.

Rummy, whose biggest headache is starting a family and having to cope with an overbearing mother-in-law, and Ace, who loves to kick bad-guy butt, stumble across what is believed to be SA’s biggest drug haul in recent history. What ensues is a series of mishaps as the duo encounter some of the city’s craftiest crooks in a race against time to catch the bad guys and claim their place in crime-fighting glory.

One of the biggest foreign film attractions at the festival is Amour, a French drama that scooped the coveted Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert, and directed and penned by Michael Haneke, the tale revolves around Georges and Anne, who are in their 80s and are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family.

One day, Anne has an attack and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

Of note, too, is Chicken and Plums, in which Nasser-Ali, a talented musician, loses the will to live after his wife breaks his beloved violin during an argument.

He searches for a replacement, and finding none that sounds quite the same, vows to die. Eight days later, he does.

The film tells of his last week of life, where viewers see flashbacks and flashforwards of his previous life and his children’s futures.

Co-directed and co-scripted by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapiby, this film stars Mathieu Amalric and Edouard Baer.

Among other gems from across the globe are winners of major industry awards. Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin, from the US, for example, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Fipresci Award at Cannes.

The documentary section offers Planet of Snail (directed by|Seung-jun Yi), which won best feature documentary at IDFA; the Iranian film This is Not a Film (directed by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb); and two films by Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame: Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope.

Supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), the National Film and Video Foundation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism and a range of valued funders and partners, the festival will turn the main spotlight on Africa this year.

There will be 16 South African feature films – more than any previous year – as well as 19 documentaries, 27 short films and four films in the Wavescape section – a total of 66 South African films, most of which will see their world premieres on Durban screens.

The South African programme will include the harrowing and minimalist Accession (directed by Michael Rix), and the street dance extravaganza The African Cypher (directed by Bryan Little).

A woman tries to save a special herd in All the President’s Elephants, directed by Richard Slater Jones, and puppeteering pioneers are the subject of Bigger Than Life, a film directed by Delphine de Blic.

Also of note is Cassette: Who Do You Trust?, directed by John Barker, about a quest for musical fame.

The identity-switch farce, Copposites (directed by Oliver Rodger and starring Rob van Vuuren and Siv Ngesi) should also attract interest. Ditto the soulful and melodious Cry of Love, directed by Faith Isiakpere and starring Leleti Khumalo, Victor Masondo and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

Other highlights include Dragon’s Feast 3D (directed by Damon and Craig Foster), which daringly investigates the aquatic world of crocodiles, and Fynbos (directed by Harry Patramanis), a riveting psychological thriller.

Fact and fiction blend into a nightmarish reality in Gangster Project (directed by Teboho Edkins), while Gog’ Helen – directed by Adze Ugah and with a cast including Lillian Dube, Kagiso Rakosa, Patrick Shai and Winnie Modise – is said to be a rollicking adventure of a grandmother and granddaughter.

The inspiring Healers (directed by Thomas Barry) recognises the tenacity of people committed to the upliftment of their community.

Inside Story (directed by Rolie Nikiwe) is an underdog story with an important message, and Legends of the Casbah: Indian Rebels of the 1950s (directed by Riason Naidoo and Damon Heatlie) illustrates a Durban from a bygone era.

Man on Ground (directed by Akin Omotoso and starring Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Fana Mokoena) probes the effects of xenophobia, and Me, You, Mankosi (directed by Linda Hughes) looks at survival in rural South Africa.

One Last Look (directed by Philip Roberts) is sure to delight fans of horror films, while Roadmap to Apartheid (directed by Eron Davidson and Ana Nogueira) compares apartheid SA to Israel-Palestine now.

Rockstardom (directed by Michael Cross) profiles the life of musician Brendon Shields; Sleeper’s Wake (directed by Barry Berk) is a dark tale of grief and seduction; and Snare (directed by Diony Kempen), grippingly focuses on the rhino-poaching epidemic.

Drought

Taste of Rain (directed by Richard Pakleppa) watches the testing of relationships in the Namibian desert, and Uhlanga – The Mark (Ndaba ka Ngwane) takes a personal look at a boy’s life in the shadow of witchcraft rumours.

Wetlands, a French drama from Canada, penned and directed by Guy Édoin, is also of note. Set on a dairy farm in the middle of a drought, it focuses on the Santerre family, who have to learn forgiveness. It stars Pascale Bussières and Luc Picard.

Umbilical Cords (directed by Sarah Ping Nie Jones) tries to understand mother-daughter relationships and cultural difference, while Zama Zama (directed by Vickus Strijdom, and starring Lindani Nkosi and Presley Chweneyagae) is said to be a thrilling story of brotherhood and illegal mining.

“The programme is rich with inspiring work from the wider continent, including many films that have excelled internationally and will see their South African debuts at DIFF, such as the Rwandan Grey Matter (directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza), which won two big awards at Tribeca,” says a festival spokesman.

She adds that Senegalese director Moussa Touré’s The Pirogue comes to the festival from the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes and the ghostly Senegalese Tey was nominated for the Golden Bear |in Berlin.

Also on the programme is Leila Kilani’s On the Edge from Morocco, the Eyptian Asmaa, and Nairobi Half Life from Kenya, which will have its world premiere at the festival.

This year’s programme from Europe showcases the myriad perspectives that colour the cultural landscape of contemporary Europe.

“With support from organisations and partnerships such as Eunic, World Documentary Exchange and Festival Scope, audiences can expect a feast of fine European films.

Among them is Michael Glawogger’s Whore’s Glory from Austria, Mads Brügger’s The Ambassador from Denmark, the Portuguese Tabu (a Golden Bear nominee in Berlin), the new film from German director Veit Helmer, Baikonur, and Stella Days, an Irish film with Martin Sheen.

A special French focus at this year’s festival will bring a rich offering from the country widely regarded as the birthplace of cinema, including films such as The Lady, a powerful biopic on Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi (directed by Luc Besson), and On Air (directed by Pierre Pinaud).

Then there’s The Rest of the World (directed by Damien Odoul), 38 Witnesses (directed by Lucas Belvaux), Captive (directed by Brillante Mendoza), Outside Satan (directed by Bruno Dumont), 2 Days in New York (directed by Julie Delpy), and The Kid with a Bike (directed by Dardenne Brothers).

There are also some important industry initiatives with French partners, intended to stimulate the growth of cinema in Africa, boosted by the French South Africa Season 2012 and 2013, a two-year exchange between the respective countries.

“The oversight body for film in France, Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, and its SA counterpart, National Film and Video Foundation, will engage in meetings with producers to explore co-production opportunities.”

* Principal venues for the festival are Suncoast Cinecentre, Ster-Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau at Gateway, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu and the Blue Waters Hotel. Tickets are available at venues, and prices range from R25 to R35 (R50 for 3D shows). See www.durbanfilmfest.co.za