There was praise all round for the opening night of the 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) which featured the screening of the highly anticipated South African debut thriller/horror feature, The Tokoloshe.
The film, which is produced by Dumi Gumbi and Cati Weinek of The Ergo Company, is directed by Jerome Pikwane, who is the co-writer, with novelist Richard Kunzmann.
In The Tokoloshe– which stars Petronella Tshuma, Dawid Minnaar, Kwande Nkosi, Harriet Manamela and Yule Masiteng- a young woman, crippled by suppressed emotions, must find the courage to face an insatiable demon, wrought in her own childhood, when she tries to save the life of a girl-child abandoned in a run-down Johannesburg hospital.
‘Using the horror genre, I wanted to investigate how we suppress trauma and what happens when the trauma comes to the surface,’ said Pikwane. ‘In effect, the tokoloshe in South African mythology has become a foil for abuse that is ingrained in our society. The characters, their journey and relationships are the focus and not the beautiful shots or the CGI, although we have that too,’ said Pikwane.
DIFF Festival Manager, Ms Chipo Zhou said the film is not what one would expect from its title, daring audiences to see beneath the surface. ‘It is a horror film, crafted so intricately, unveiling the menace that is our everyday burden as women in this country. But the film depicts the story of a survivor, not a victim. It is a chilling story, one that needs to be told now and is particularly relevant as it gives voice to the voiceless,’ she said.
Speaking earlier at the festival media launch, Mr Kishore Gobardan, acting Executive Director: Institutional Planning and Governance at UKZN, expressed pride for the festival saying, ‘UKZN has been at the forefront of DIFF since its inception and we will continue to support it.’
Mr Eric Apelgren, Head of International and Governance Relations at the eThekwini Municipality added, ‘We need to pull together as a city to support DIFF and invest in content generation and production. We should celebrate the diversity of film and its power to transform people and communities.’