Revered and much-loved for the work it does, the Durban International Film Festival is seen as the world’s premiere festival for showcasing African cinema. Already 35 years young, it is by far the largest film festival in southern Africa and, having been formed in 1979, one of the oldest.
Taking place in Durban, in South Africa’s Natal province, the Durban International Film Festival (typically abbreviated to DIFF) is an annual event designed to open a window onto other cultures, via issue-based films which are geared towards improving human relations, tolerance and understanding, with a particular emphasis on recent South African cinematic works. This manifests itself as a mightily impressive program of screening and supporting strands over 12 days at various venues across the city.
Its most recent edition in 2014 saw in excess of 200 screenings which celebrated the finest in African, South African and international filmmaking, via feature length movies, shorts, documentaries and even surf films by way of the Wavescape Surf Film Festival, which was integrated into DIFF in 2005. The majority of these were African or South African premieres, and as the festival remains centred on South African filmmaking there were 40 features and 38 shorts debuting from local artists, making 2014 a vintage year for regional film: this was the largest number of South African films screened in the festival’s entire history.
As well as African work, much of which documents little-told stories behind apartheid’s end and South Africa’s rapidly changing social and political landscape, the festival has seen an increasing number of international entries in recent years, with films from more than 56 countries presented to audiences.The 35th edition saw Richard Linklater’s universally acclaimed Boyhood screen, while renowned short director Zee Ntuli debuted his ‘electrifying’ first feature length movie Hard to Get.
DIFF continues to go from strength to strength, and is now seen as the primary means of opening doors to the ever-busy South African film industry. It runs in-depth and immersive workshops and seminar programmes during the fest, featuring local and international filmmakers and the movers and shakers from within the business, as well as forums, outreach activities into cinema-less townships, and talent and marketing sections. Coupled with competition sections and awards, DIFF’s mission to support the development of cinema in Africa and beyond is an ongoing success story.
The 36th edition of the Durban International Film Festival takes place at numerous locations across the city, including the Suncoast Cinema, Luthuli Museum, and the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre. Dates are July 16th to July 26th, 2015.