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Durban International Film Festival - an FFW festival profile
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Durban International Film Festival

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  • Durban, South Africa July 2015, TBA
  • Call for Entry Deadline: March 2015, TBA
    Deadline for feature films: April 15th
  • Festival Data:
    • Established: 1979
    • Attendance: 20000
    • Media Attendance: 80
    • Accredited Industry Attendance: 130
    • Total Number of Films Submitted: 3500
    • Total Number of Films Screened: 150
    • Total Screenings: 300
    • Total National and International Premieres: 50
    • # of Shorts Screened: 70
    • # of Features Screened: 80
    • Competitive
    • Retrospective
    • Has Panels
    • Workshops
  • Festival Website:
  • Festival Description:

    The Durban International Film Festival is South Africa 's longest running film festival. Recognizing that the medium of film is a multi-dimensional tool which helps us gain insight into other cultures, the films shown at DIFF allow a migration of the mind, a first step towards tolerance, understanding and improved human relations. With its wide-ranging selection of issue-based films DIFF offers a journey, not into an escapist world, but into moments of conscientisation, reflective imagination and inspiration. The Festival is a valuable meeting place for filmmakers and industry personnel and for the forging of partnerships necessary for the cohesive emergence and development of a film industry in South Africa. DIFF showcases established filmmaking brilliance and is also an incubator for emerging talent. Screenings take place throughout Durban including township areas where cinemas are non-existent. Feature films, short films and documentaries are all welcome.

    In 2008, DIFF presented films from 95 countries, most of which were not seen previously on the circuit. Central to this exploration of different cinematic cultures were South African films: 11 features, 26 documentaries and 25 short films. A Talent Campus training project sought applications from all around Africa, in an effort to stimulate film production in Africa. Daily seminars and workshops were held in which the National Film and Video Foundation and the South African Broadcasting Corporation were a powerful presence.

    Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the principal funders of the Durban International Film Festival are: the National Film and Video Foundation, Stichting Doen, HIVOS, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, German Embassy, Goethe Institute of South Africa, City of Durban, Industrial Development Corporation, with support from East Coast Radio, Durban Film Office, French Embassy of South Africa and other valued sponsors and partners.


  • Film Submissions:
  • Email:diff(at)ukzn.ac.za
    Phone:(27) 31 260 2506
    Fax:(27) 31 260 3074
    Mailing Address: Centre for Creative Arts University of Natal, King George V Ave
    Durban 4041
    South Africa
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  • The landmark 30th edition of the Durban International Film Festival announced that the winner of the Best Feature Film award is No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti ( Taiwan ). Directed by Leon Dai, it was lauded by the International Jury as a “film that surprises and charms at the same time.” “It is a real story with the feel of a melodrama. It is new and original but creates the impression that it was already in your heart for a long time.” The Best Feature Film award carries a cash prize of R30 000. Cash prizes of R10 000 are also awarded to the winners of the Best South African Feature Film and Best First Feature Film.

    The Best South African Feature Film was awarded to Shirley Adams, directed by first-time filmmaker Oliver Hermanus. The jury praised the film's “true excellence in performance, cinematography, directing, and editing”. Calling it a South African masterpiece, the jury commented: “Through a meticulously observed minimalism, the film tackles numerous relevant social issues with both subtlety and a mature sensitivity. Its themes of love, human endurance, and forgiveness are universal, and give it audience appeal both locally and abroad.” The Best First Feature Film was also awarded to Shirley Adams . The Jury noted: “ Shirley Adams is a special movie in which the director takes a number of risks. Moving his camera around as if it was an extra character in the story, he follows his main actress ceaselessly. The result is a powerful movie with great emotions that works all the more since the emotions mostly stay beneath the surface. And these emotions are definitely felt by the viewer.”

    The International Jury comprised filmmakers Tunde Kelani ( Nigeria ) and Cheick Oumar Sissoko ( Mali ), actress Rosie Tebogo Motene ( South Africa ) and Gert Jan Zuilhof (The Netherlands), programmer at International Film Festival Rotterdam. The jury awarded the Best Director award to Philippe Lioret for Welcome ( France ). “Lioret has made a remarkable film about the brutal and tragic reality of immigration. The gamut of human experiences and emotions are represented through his excellent direction of his actors Vincent Lindon and Firat Ayverdi,” the Jury said.

    The Documentary Film Jury picked two music-themed films for Best Documentary and Best South African Documentary. Intangible Asset No 82 (Australia/Japan) by Emma Franz, was awarded Best Documentary. The jury commented: “In her directorial debut, which explores the journey of a jazz drummer determined to meet a shaman and grandmaster musician, Emma Franz connects with two very different worlds in such an imaginative and compelling way that deepens our appreciation of diverse cultural forms and shows us how we can become immeasurably enriched when we open up ourselves to different cultural experiences.” The Best South African Documentary was awarded to The Silver Fez, directed by Lloyd Ross, for its “fascinating depiction of a duel between two men from opposite ends of the social spectrum as they compete for a coveted music trophy.” “Having gained the trust of the two competing factions, the director and his camera captures all the textures of this battle - its impact on individuals, families and community. Within the beautiful melodies and musical refrains lurks a tale of unfulfilled dreams, passion, pride and revenge.”

    The Short Film Jury awarded Best Short Film to A Better Life (Spain), directed by Luis Fernandez Reneo, a tale of immigrant smuggling on the USA-Mexico border, praising its authenticity, fantastic acting by its child stars and a story, which despite its locale, resonated with African viewers. The Best South African Short Film was awarded to Coming Home, directed by Bobby Heaney, starring television actor Hlomla Dandala and based on a story by young writer/actress Amber Jay van Rooyen. The jury called the film “touching, with a deep, sincere story and a strong message of personal strength.”
    Special Mention Documentary : Sea Point Days (South Africa), directed by Francois Verster and Nollywood Babylon (Canada), directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal.
    Special Mention Short Film: Miss Sgodiphola ( South Africa ), directed by Andy “The Admiral” Kasrils
    Audience Choice Best Film Award: Saving Luna ( Canada ), directed by Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit … ... through its story of a lost Orca named Luna, veiwers discover an emotional connection between human and animal which calls into question the present understanding of human-to-nature relationships.
    Wavescapes Surf Film Festival Audience Award: Surfica Musica ( Australia ), directed by Mick Sowry … ... a melodic surfing documentary that resonates with the spiritual duet between a violin virtuoso and surfing provocateur as they embark upon a radical experiment to explore creative expression.
    Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award : Rough Aunties (United Kingdom/South Africa), directed by Kim Longinotto. “This affecting documentary is about an Amanzimtoti-based NGO, Operation Bobbi Bear and its small group of remarkable workers, mostly women, who battle to rescue and rehabilitate young victims of abuse and courageously pursue the perpetrators to bring them to justice. This film is expertly constructed from intimate footage of the different environments people live in, and the things that they say or struggle to say, resulting in a movie that is both authentic and compelling.”
  • Best Film: "Ezra" (France/Nigeria/Austria)
    directed by Newton Aduaka
    … “a bold and daring film that takes us into the heart of the politics of war and hatred. Ezra does not want to appease the eye; instead it wants us to look the ugly truth in the face. The film boasts a superb dramatic narrative structure, and an excellent cast of faces and locations. It is a deserved winner.”

    Best South African Feature Film: "Heartlines"
    directed by Angus Gibson
    … “sets a challenge to South African filmmakers with its depth of characterization, its attention to cinematographic detail and its unflinching adherence to its core message of redemption.”

    Best First Feature Film: shared by "The Unpolished" (Germany)
    directed by Pia Marais
    and "The Unforgiven" (Korea)
    directed by Yoon Jong-bin
    … “The Unforgiven is a patient and beautifully shot film that talks about the world of men and their inability of communicate. The Unpolished is an autobiographic film of laudable courage and subtlety. Both films boast strong performances and a successful 'mise en scene'.”

    Best Direction: Jia Zhang-Ke for "Still Life" (Hong Kong/China)
    … “Jia Zhang-Ke takes us along with his protagonists to an unknown land, and employs his mastery over all the elements of filmmaking to submerge us in this poetic world. A masterpiece by a master filmmaker.”

    Best Actress: Cherry Pie Picache in "Summer Heat" (Philippines)
    … “for a sustained and controlled performance of the character of the gay sister, Jess, who despite her apparent cultivated masculine exterior betrays a softness which can hardly be seen but can be felt by all.”

    Best Actor: Emir Hadzihafisbegovic in "Armin"
    (Croatia/Germany/Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    … “for a great minimalist, subtle, but extremely accurate performance. Emir Hadzihafisbogovic makes his character extremely believable and likable.”

    Best Cinematography: Christophe Lanzenberg for "The Sensation Of Sight" (USA)
    … “the smooth and poetic camera movement and the very moody and soft texture of the lighting work in perfect harmony with the storytelling and the subject.”

    Best Screenplay: Gal Uchovsky and Eytan Fox for "The Bubble" (Israel)
    … “well-written, devoid of clichés, and with a strong political message, The Bubble shows us the madness of a world torn by strife and intolerance, and attempts to show us a way out of it. With its tight and tension-filled storyline, it also manages to balance the Israeli and the Palestinian sides of the story.”

    Special Jury Prize: "Meisie" (South Africa), directed by Darrell James Roodt
    … “showing courage and determination to get films made, Darrell Roodt has made a tender film with a simple idea and a cast of non-professionals. It will hopefully inspire a new generation of South African filmmakers to make a different kind of cinema.”

    Best Documentary: "Cats of Mirikitani" (USA), directed by Linda Hattendorf
    … “for a sensitive and compelling story that teases out the extraordinary transformation from internal conflict to personal resolution. Cats of Mirikitani is a film that has universal appeal, in which the director shows extreme self-restraint and in so doing produces a poetic, nuanced film about the triumph of the human spirit.”

    Special Mention Documentary: "Nömadak Tx" (Spain) directed by Raul de la Fuente, Pablo Iraburu, Harkaitz Mtnez. de San Vincente and Igor Otxoa.
    …”visually beautiful and genuinely honest in its pursuit of exchange and dialogue, Nömadak Tx poetically chronicles a journey of cultural collaboration through the shared love of music. Uncontrived and fluid, the film brings hope to a world ravaged by conflict.”

    Best South African Documentary: "The Mother’s House" directed by Francois Verster.
    … “for a brutally honest and sensitive portrait, intimate and thoughtfully edited which reveals a story that speaks to the erosion of innocence and the complexity of the transformation from adolescent to teenager.”

    Best Short Film: "Sekalli Le Meokgo" (Meokgo and the Stickfighter) (South Africa), directed by Teboho Mahlatsi
    … “magical, beautifully executed, this short film found its own conceptual language through the subtle use of dialogue and poetic silences. The story celebrates diversity and illustrates tradition and its modern transformation without being romantic. It is truly a product of love that resonates with the human condition.”

    Best South African Short Film: "Sekalli Le Meokgo" (Meokgo and the Stickfighter) (South Africa), directed by Teboho Mahlatsi
    See Best Short Film citation above.

    Big Fish School of Digital Film Short Film Newcomer Award:
    "Amambuka Westrike" (South Africa)
    directed by Marthinus Lamprecht
    … “for telling a socially relevant story and providing an emotionally balanced take on a historically important event.”

    Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award: "Shame" (Pakistan), directed by Mohammed Naqvi
    …”[for bringing the story of] Mukhtaran Mai [who] bravely endured a lengthy court ordeal and eventual conviction of the men who had raped her. Her courage and persistence finally led to international media coverage and financial support which enabled her to open a school for girls in her home village.”…

    Audience Choice Best Feature Film: Red Like the Sky (Rosso Come Il Cielo) directed by Cristiano Bortone.


    Dora Bouchoucha, producer, Niki Karimi, actress, director, Pedro Pimenta, producer, festival director, Portia Rankoane, director, poet, Partho Sen-Gupta, director

    Junaid Ahmed, filmmaker; Darren Murray, filmmaker; Madoda Ncayiyana, filmmaker.

    Val Adamson, photographer, Vashna Jagarnath, historian, Greg Streak, artist, filmmaker.

    Doung Anwar Jahangeer, multimedia artist and architect; Edmund Mhlongo, filmmaker; Maganthrie Pillay, filmmaker,

    Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Gay and Lesbian Community Centre/Amnesty International
    David Spurret, Philosophy Department, UKZN; Coral Vinsen, Amnesty International Durban
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