In its infancy but already an important part of the cultural calendar, the Vancouver South African Film Festival brings the richness and diversity of South Africa to Canada via a clutch of outstanding feature films and documentaries.
Since its inaugural edition in 2011, the Vancouver South African Film Festival (VSAFF) has gone out of its way to screen entertaining and informative work which depicts the often complex – and sometimes turbulent – history, politics and culture of the country to as wide an audience as possible. Films shown here can be thought-provoking or life-affirming, or challenging and uplifting – often at the same time – and frequently mirror the country’s own struggles through the ages. It is hailed by its creators as ‘the first significant festival of South African films held anywhere outside of South Africa.’
VSAFF’s maiden festival was an outright success, with a Vancouver opening night gala premiere for the acclaimed and multiple festival award-winning Skin, starring Sophie Okonedo and Sam Neill. Of that first screening programme, seven films received their Canadian debuts, and the entire event managed to raise more than $14,000 for the NGO Education Without Borders.
For its fourth edition in 2014, VSAFF presented another packed programme of seven feature-length works and two documentary shorts collections across its three-day fest. Leaning heavily towards documentaries, the festival showcased ‘Beyond the Stereotypes’ – designed to challenge the clichéd perception of the country – and ‘Tradition and Change’ sections, while its fictional works included the award-winning yet controversial _Of Good_Report, which was famously blocked by government censors from screening at the 2013 Durban International Film Festival.
2014 saw South Africa celebrate twenty years of democracy, and VSAFF marked this milestone by paying tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, with South African High Commissioner, His Excellency Membathisi Mdladlana, attending the event. The festival featured an array of supporting strands, with gala parties, guest speakers – including famed South African lawyer, writer, art lover and freedom fighter Albie Sachs – panel discussions, comedy shows and plenty of delicious South African food.
VSAFF is non-profit and welcomes sponsors, donations and volunteers, with all proceeds going to Education Without Borders to fund important educational development work in South Africa. Attend or get involved from April 10th to the 12th 2015, when the Vancouver South African Film Festival reaches its fifth anniversary. All films will be screened at the festival’s home at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, SFU Woodward’s.