One of the events aligned to the tenth annual 2018 BRICS summit - an international relations conference attended by the heads of state or heads of government of its five member states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is the BRICS Film Festival coming to the Playhouse from July 22-27 as part of Durban’s city-wide July focus on film.
Although the epicentre of the 2018 BRICS summit is in Sandton, Johannesburg, there are national events being hosted around the country to encourage delegates to explore the magnitude and diversity of our country.
Durban is proud host of the 2018 BRICS Film Festival to take place in the Playhouse, which will host delegates from all member states – mostly carefully selected leaders in the film and creative industries. The idea of a film festival and film-themed forum came out of the 2015 BRICS summit at which an agreement was signed between the governments of the BRICS States on co-operation in the field of culture.
The BRICS Film Festival is a companion event to other city film themed events taking place over the mid-year holiday season: Durban International Film Festival; Durban FilmMart; Wavescapes and the Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers Congress (NEWF).
Each BRICS member state will have a day dedicated to showcase five of their best recent films – in whatever genre. The films will be free and open to the public and will be in the Playhouse Drama: Monday 23 July is South Africa; Tuesday 24 is Russia; Wednesday 25 is India; Thursday 26 is China and Friday 27 is Brazil.
Two of the five films to be screened each day will be competition entries – with the best films of the festival, chosen by a panel from experts from each member country, and awarded at a closing event on Friday 27 July.
South Africa’s selected two competition features will be Beyond the River (based on the moving true story of Piers Cruickshanks and Siseko Ntondini's journey to gold in the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon,) and Five Fingers for Marseilles (a disgraced former hero returns to establish a quiet life only to find a new threat to be faced in this South African Western); as well as The Whale Caller (set in the seaside town of Hermanus and based on a novel by Zakes Mda, is an enchanting tale of isolation, infatuation and human connection); Comatose (which centres around two siblings in conflict over the future of their comatose mother, testing their family ties and posing difficult questions about euthanasia) and Skulls of my People (a deeply affecting and important documentary about the 1904-1908 genocide of around 80% of the population of Nama, San and Herero people in Namibia).
Of special mention, is one of China’s entries – a premiere film made especially for the festival.
Also on Monday there is a day-long industry forum at the Elangani Hotel during the Durban FilmMart in collaboration with the Independent Black Filmmakers Collective (IBFC). Themes for the BRICS Film Forum on Monday 23 July are opportunities and challenges of the fourth Industrial Revolution for content creators in BRICS markets; presenting insights on creative, political, legal, financial and institutional framework for the establishment of BRICS audio-visual / film co-production and distribution treaty and fund; opportunities and challenges of content creation, distribution collaborative content development amongst BRICS filmmakers; and funding, production and distribution of content that can travel between the five BRICS countries.
The festival opens with an invitation-only opening gala concert in the Playhouse Opera, on Sunday evening, 22 July, marrying live performance with short films from each of the BRIC member states.
A carefully presented programme allows Durban artists to represent the member states though music, song and dance. Compered by LeAnne Manas and Tony Kgoroge, performers include leading Shembe group, Amazebra Indlamu and musician Mbuso Khoza representing South Africa; the fabulous KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under baton of Christopher Chen representing China performing Act 2 Grand Pas de deux from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker; the acclaimed Nateshwa Dance Company and Kathak dancer Manesh Maharaj representing India; dancers Casey Swales and Rachel Abrahams performing Russian ballet representing Russia; dancers Angelique Allison and Ryan Hammond doing the Brazilian Samba representing Brazil; with support from the Playhouse Dance Residency with Smeetha Maharaj at the helm, showcasing their Bollywood and Brazilian Samba routines. The gala evening is directed by Ralph Lawson, and produced by the Playhouse Company, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture.
The opening night films will honour Nelson Mandela’s centenary. The films will be five, 5-minute short films produced by the respective countries under the facilitation of a South African production company, Via- Vollenhoven and Appollis Independent. The theme for the films is, “Mandela” and the film from each country reflects the uniqueness of the country, as well as how each member country relates to Nelson Mandela and the impact he had through leadership, politics, humanity, culture, and unity. The gala evening is directed by Ralph Lawson, and produced by the Playhouse Company, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture.
As a member of BRICS, South Africa through the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) is hosting the third BRICS Film Festival. The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) in its capacity as the national film funding body will implement the festival.