The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities will host the Durban International Festival (DIFF) from 22 July to 1 August 2021. Now celebrating its 42nd year, the festival will screen selected films and host seminars and workshops, all virtually.
This year’s opening film is The Eagle’s Nest, an action-thriller directed by award-winning Cameroonian born British-based Olivier Assoua that is set in Africa and addresses migration and poverty. During a night of debauchery, best friends Paris and Samantha discover five million dollars. Later, a thief breaks into Paris’ house, kills her mother, her sister and leaves her for dead. When she recovers, with the help of Samantha, Paris sets off on a quest to find answers. What begins as a search for the truth quickly turns into violence and disturbing revelations. In a world of lies, deceit and betrayal, will they be able to uncover the identity of the murderer?
According to Head of Programming Ms Chipo Zhou, this film was chosen to open the festival because it is a topical critique of current emigration politics and tells a tale that is highly accessible from an African perspective. ‘It raises questions on the brain drain and how to make the continent habitable for future generations. It deals with genuine social issues around the trafficking of Africans, a reminder of the not so forgotten slave trade. It addresses emigration, which has had a significant impact on the continent in recent years. The younger generations are born into poverty with fantasies of a better life abroad. We’re looking forward to the discussions that will no doubt ensue after the screening of the film,’ she said.
Assoua commented, ‘I am thrilled and honoured to present the opening film of this year’s Durban International Film Festival. It is such a privilege to be following in the footsteps of the talented filmmakers who came before me. My movie, The Eagle’s Nest, is an honest take on the politics of modern-day immigration and persistent rural poverty in Africa. My aim was to shed light on those issues and be part of the solution by offering a platform for young Africans to gain new skills in front of and behind the camera. I hope this film will entertain viewers as well as bring my vision to light.’
The closing film Threshold is an autobiographical documentary by Brazilian director Corarci Ruiz that focuses on a mother who follows the gender transition of her adolescent son. She interviews him between 2016 and 2019, addressing the conflicts, certainties and uncertainties that pervade him in a deep search for his identity. At the same time, the mother, revealed through first-person narration and by her voice behind the camera that talks to her son, also goes through a process of transformation required by the situation that life presents her with, by breaking old paradigms, facing fears, and dismantling prejudices.
Community film screenings, school programmes and engagement with various community organisations around the city of Durban will be the pulse of this year’s Isiphethu industry-focused programme at the DIFF. A range of top facilitators, guest speakers and participants will be featured. They will headline several of these programmes as the DIFF continues to position itself as one of the continent’s biggest and most significant festivals.
The entire programme, alongside all the films that will be screening, is available on www.durbanfilmfest.com. Tickets for the virtual screenings are free and open through a booking system two days ahead of the event.
The 42nd edition of the festival is organised by the CCA with the support of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, National Film and Video Foundation, National Arts Council and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture.