The DIY Guide to DIFF

This post should really be titled: Movies we want to see at DIFF with a whole lot of kick-ass trailers that will get you wishing you were in a cinema and not behind a computer screen. But we prefer to slap the word “guide” onto everything because Vice does it.

So the 33rd Annual Durban International Film Festival starts tomorrow. I’ll pause here so you can find a fresh pair of shorts. Moving on. We here at DIY are, as always, pretty much beside ourselves with excitement. The programme is looking as schweet as my left bicep after the 50 reps (and that’s pretty schweet). As a service to the good people of Durban, we’ll be doing our best to guide you through the awesomeness with our highly (un)official DIY guide to what’s kiff at the DIFF (for religious DIFF fanatics, you already know what’s good. For those who aren’t so sure, keep reading).


First off, the free stuff (this is Durban, after all):

The Blue Waters Hotel will be hosting a ton of cool free events, from workshops to screenings. Everything from acting for screen, getting funding for your film, to scriptwriting for documentary will be dealt with. If you’re a budding film maker, I urge you to get down and check those out.


The Luthuli Museum in Kwadukuza has free screenings including Man on Ground, The African Cypher and a number of shorts.  Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu has a whole host of South African films being shown, as well as a couple from Zimbabwe. The opening film of the Wavescapes festival, Surfing and Sharks, is also free and that’ll be on the Bay Of Plenty lawns.


If you’re one of those lucky students with an income, The Sneddon Theatre at UKZN’s Howard College Campus is showing all its films for 25 bucks. It also happens to be one of the raddest places to go watch movies (mainly because there’s a bar).


Now onto the main event, the films themselves. To help you decide which films will be worth your time, each of us (Luke, Bob and Russell) has compiled a little list of five films we think will be awesome. Use it don’t use it, hate on it if you must. We don’t care. We’ll be too busy losing our minds at one of the best events to happen to Durban once a year.



Pretty much every time I’ve mentioned DIFF this year, someone has mentioned that I have to see The African Cypher. Every single time, Without fail. It also won best South African Documentary Audience Award at this year’s Encounters, which is kind of a big deal so it’s probably gonna be one of the most talked about films of the fest. It’s a South African documentary about street dance crews in Mamelodi and the Cape Flats that seems to really move people. I’m not looking forward to being one of those annoying people that asks everyone “Have you seen The African Cypher? No? You really should…” but from what I’ve heard, and from watching the trailer, it seems inevitable.



I’m kind of cheating a bit with this one since I’ve already seen Rockstardom, but I really enjoyed it and so I’m amped to see it at The Sneddon with musicians and artists and their ilk. It’s one of those films that my kinda people can definitely relate to. It’s an honest account of a small town singer/songwriter trying to pursue his dreams. That sounds cheesy but it’s a humble and earnest film. The film lets Brendon Shields and his music speak for themselves and it works. I listened and I related and I think a fair chunk of you will too.



I don’t know if it’s gonna be good, but I’m so down to see Scabbard Samurai. A Japanese film about a “samurai-on-the-run” (awesome) named Nomi Kanjuro who has forsaken his sword. He is captured and is given 30 days to make a boy prince laugh or he must commit the suicide ritual of Sepukku. Easy enough, I know. The thing is, the boy prince is grieving over his mother. Oh, and the Kanjuro is horribly unfunny. Kanjuro also has a 9 year old daughter who actually wants him to commit Seppuku, you know, for honour. This looks to be absurdly funny.


I’m really stoked for the two Woody Allen films at the fest this year, one by him, and one about him. I’m definitely an Allen fan and I had To Rome With Love on my watch list since I heard about it, so I swooned a little when I saw it in the programme. A real surprise in the programme though was Woody Allen: A Documentary, that’s when I went full swoon. Picture any girl in love in an animated film. That kind of swoon. It was directed by one of the Curb Your Enthusiasm directors, Robert Weide. Although I’m not familiar with all his work, I am familiar with, and love, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Woody Allen, so it can’t be bad, right?




And last on my five must-see films list or whatever this is are the Morgan Spurlock documentaries, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. I don’t really care for Super Size Me which is Spurlock’s claim to fame, but as a Magic card carrying member of the geek squad, I most certainly do care for Comic-Con. Call me a bad influence (again), but I am going to smoke a joint and get my stoner-geek (Think Kevin Smith, but with fewer airline troubles) the fuck on for A Fan’s Hope. Spurlock’s other film at the fest, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a documentary on the advertising industry that raised all its funding by selling advertising, which they show you in the film. Ambitious and cheeky, it should be an entertaining and interesting watch.




So that’s my list of five must-see films for me at this year’s DIFF. Which is actually seven films, one of which I’ve already watched.



Cool. Period drama’s, ultra violence muck, sword fights, gratuitous sex, the occult, limbs flying and blood splattering around, I dig that shit. A lot. Not to say I’m opposed to a good weepy drama or terse thriller but if I could chose I’d have boobs, blood and the batshit insane. Luckily DIFF this year has been kind enough to fulfill all of the aforementioned requirements with these 5 films:


Hari-Kari: The Death Of A Samuari (3D): Takashi Mike’s filmography is eclectic, to say the least, but he is excellent at the intense and overdone, so although I generally balk at the idea of 3-D, I’m looking forward to the spectacle of ronins and samurais slaughtering each other in 1600s Japan while I wear goofy glasses over my already goofy glasses. It’s a remake of a 1962 samurai classic and may be pricey because of its being in 3D, but considering it’s from the guy who brought everyone Ichi The KIller and Izo, it’ll probably be worth every cent.



Scabbard Samuari: Quite literally 180 degrees from the above. Scabbard Samuari looks to be a light hearted and fun approach to the whole ‘ronin/disgraced samuarai/loner’ story that is so often explored in Samuari (and Western) films. However, in this case, it’s more of a father-daughter story than a lone warrior fighting his way through Japan story. The google search couples the words ‘sincere’, ‘touching’ and ‘heartfelt’ with this comedy and from the few trailers I watched, and words I’ve read it seems to be exactly that.



Faust: Sokurov’s films have never been for mass consumption and the average movie goer. Deliberately slow at times and often difficult to sit through, his work explores human nature. Typically its darker side which is something Russian’s just do so well. Apparently Faust is quite different, stylistically at least, to his previous efforts but I still imagine this loose Goethe interpretation won’t be for the popcorn Tuesday movie night crowd. Wikipedia tells me it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film and Darren Aronofsky (swoon) said this about it “There are some films that make you cry, there are some films that make you laugh, there are some films that change you forever after you see them; and this is one of them.” And if it’s good enough for ole Darren, it’s good enough for me.



Outside Satan: “Another ‘WTF?’ film from Gallic writer-director Bruno Dumont” – Thanks Wiki! I have absolutely zero knowledge on this film or Bruno Dumont but that line alone, and the fact that the name of this film in French is the cool as fuck sounding ‘Hors Satan’, means I’m desperately excited to see it. ps. I’m secretly just hoping there’re some Satanic whores in it. Hell yeah.



Neil Young Journeys: This video should explain why this is my final ‘recommendation’:



(And yes before some smarts points this out in the comment, the video is from Glastonbury 2009 but the intended effect, of how godlike and awe-inspiring Neil Young still is at sixty fucking six, should be the same).






Le Havre: This is Finnish screenwriter and director Aki Kaurismaki’s latest offering and it looks utterly hilarious. Filmed in his typical low key, deadpan style, it’s a heartwarming, comical tale of an African refugee who lands up in Le Havre, Normandy instead of his intended London. From a director whose first film was an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I’m curious to see how this pans out.



5 Broken Cameras: I’m a fan of documentaries, especially ones produced on nothing but a shoe-string budget and a great deal of tenacity and passion. 5 Broken Cameras was filmed over 5 years in a small Palestinian community, and shows a world whose personal and human elements are inescapably linked to the political. I’m expecting a fresh, human take on an age old conflict which has come for most a kind of background noise.



Beasts of the Southern Wild: The name of this film alone is enough to make me want to see it. It’s a story of a young girl in a southern bayou whose world is uprooted when a hundred year storm raises prehistoric creatures from the grave. Monsters, a loss of innocence, and southern accents, I won’t be missing this one.



Man on Ground: I couldn’t quite figure out what this film was about from the trailer, but it looked interesting enough to make me wanna see it. This film’s visual appeal is undeniable, and a story that deals with something as topical as xenophobia in our home country is something we can ill-afford to miss.



360: This film features some of my favourite Hollywood actors (Anthony Hopkins and Rachel Weisz), so for that reason alone I’m pumped to see it. The film weaves a tale through a series of spectacular cities and draws together distinct narratives via one man’s decision (apparently) revealing the fundamental interconnectedness of humankind (or some shit). Big names abound and the trailer looks stunning. This is one that’ll be on most people’s to-see list.



So that’s it. That’s what we’re keen to see, our recommendations, if you will. I just watched every single trailer in this post and my laptop is balancing on a chubby, I’m that excited. It’s gonna be a ten day long orgy of film.

You can check out the full programme of films here and download a pdf of the programme here. Let us know what you’re keen to check out.

One Response to “The DIY Guide to DIFF”
  1. Sarah Dee says:

    Nice choices dudes.

    There are some great ones not in the mix here, but you cant include everything…

    I’m dying to see the new Haneke, Amour. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Note: Outside Satan is really amazing, but beware, its what film buffs like to describe as “challenging” or “difficult”, which tends to mean inaccessible and heavy going. But worth it… if you have patience.

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