DIFF Opening Weekend

The 33rd Durban International Film Fest is well underway with Elelwani opening the festival at Suncoast on Thursday night. Bob Perfect lets us know how the opening weekend of this annual feast of film went for him.



The 33rd Durban International Film Fest opened on Thursday night with the the screening of the first ever Venda film, Elelwani. Apparently anyone who is anyone was there, but I’m not entirely sure who those anyone’s actually were, I just know that I was remarkably under-dressed for the event and felt like the peasant that I am, getting a glimpse into the world behind the castle walls.


Elelwani, is a look into a culture that many of us really don’t know much about, but the story seemed somewhat familiar. Although the customs are different, patriarchy in any culture seems to be the same and the issues of gender inequality and cultural significance in the modern world are incredibly relevant to this country at this time. Although this is one of those films that deals with “issues” and will probably go down as an important film in South African film history, it also has many genuinely funny moments and isn’t painful or hard to watch which is pretty much my biggest fear when it comes to “important” films. The mysticism used in the film was a great touch and the character of the village madman who turns out to be rather wise, had a Shakespearean feel to it, although afterwards, Luke explained to me the role of the Jackal in African literature and how they related. Thanks Luke. It has to be said that Florence Masebe absolutely owned the film, her performance held the film together from start to finish, even when her co-stars and some of the choice of scenes let her down. Elelwani was 10 years in the making and with any film that takes that long to finish, it’s never going to be a perfect product, ideas change over time and can affect the original direction and creates some moments that don’t quite fit together but I’m not gonna get nit-picky, I really enjoyed the film, thought it was a great choice for the opening and I hope it does get a proper cinematic run.



The Durban night life (it does exist, promise), and other commitments saw me missing out on both Friday and Saturday’s screenings. I was determined to not let another day go past without me catching some celluloid goodness (as if anyone shoots on film anymore…), so Sunday afternoon saw me heading to the Elizabeth Sneddon theatre to watch 5 Broken Cameras.


I knew going into the film that it wouldn’t be a comfortable or easy watch.  This was one of those films about “issues” that I knew was going to make me feel rather horrid, but I’ve mostly kept my head in the sand when it comes to the Israel occupation of Palestine and wanted to see 5 Broken Cameras to hopefully get some insight into the situation. The film is about a Palestinian farmer, Emad Burnat, and his village’s passive resistance to the Isreali occupation of their land. The film starts with the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel, and the purchase of his first camera in 2005 and as his son grows, so does the occupation and the violence from Israeli soldiers who have a huge hard-on for teargas and shooting unarmed men. I’m always worried about bias in what I read and see, and although this was just one side’s perspective, that side is the side getting their land taken and getting shot at, tear-gassed and arrested by an illegal force. I left the film angry and rather depressed, watching an unarmed man get shot just for sticking up for his land had my mind in absolute turmoil. The world isn’t just party and bullshit and when the realities of what other people go through are presented to so honestly, I struggled and am still struggling to process it. The film is inspiring though, Emad and the people of Bil’in’s tenacity and peaceful perseverance against a tyrannical force moved me, but I don’t know if I could ever be that strong in a situation that appears to be rather futile.



Thankfully, I only had half an hour for the film to really sink in before I was watching Woody Allen: A Documentary, a much needed dose of humour and escapism. It was everything I needed at the time and everything I wanted out of a documentary on, in my opinion, one of the greatest humourists of all time. You get to know Woody from his days doing stand-up and hating it all the way to his most successful film to date, Midnight In Paris. I’m obviously biased when it comes to this film, it would have been incredibly hard for me to leave disappointed and I didn’t. Just getting to watch the people that knew him best and worked with him talk about some of the most iconic films and scenes in history was a real treat, and getting to see those scenes, some again, some for the first time, had me spilling popcorn all over the poor woman next to me. Getting an insight into the mind of someone you idolise is always an eye opener, and if you think of Woody Allen as highly as I do, try catch the next screening before the end of the fest.



So that was my viewing for the opening weekend of DIFF. I definitely didn’t catch as many films as I’d have liked to but we’ve still got a whole week of film festing ahead of us. I hope to see some of you at Musgrave tonight for The African Cypher at 22:15. What’s on your to watch list, and what have you enjoyed at the fest so far?

One Response to “DIFF Opening Weekend”
  1. Alexander says:

    “Tyrannosaur” last night (memorable) and more tonight. Hoping to catch “The Africa Project” and “The African Cypher”.

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