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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

DIFF AWARD WINNERS

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), hosted the Durban International Festival (DIFF) from September 10 to 20, 2020. This year, for its 41st edition, the festival presented a programme of close to 60 feature films, documentaries and short films alongside exciting industry programme: isiPhethu.

After a drive-in screening of the closing film Dust, a thriller by Pieter du Plessis, the award winners were announced on September 19 during a pre-recorded ceremony.

In the shorts category, the jury emphasised how impressed they were with the overall quality of all 23 shorts. Yet, it was unanimously decided that the winner of Best Short Film was Exam directed by Sonia K. Hadad. “From the first frame, the film gets to the point.” mentioned one of the jury members. For both Best African Short and Best South African Short Film, all votes of the jury went to the animation Ruby and Roach by Erentia Bedeker. The jury commended the short film for the innocence of the film that takes away any preconceived ideas.

In the documentary category, the jury mentioned being very impressed with the selection. They commended the variety of the topics and felt that the majority of the documentaries was very strong. Without much debate, Best Documentary was awarded to the Kenyan documentary Softie by the Kenyan Sam Soko. “It is increasingly important that we not only share our stories but protect the artists that do so,” shared Soko. Influence, directed by Diana Neille and Richard Poplak, scooped the award for Best South African Documentary. The jury commended Influence for bringing a journalistic knife edge to film.

The jury had to debate longer about the awards handed out to the feature films of the festival. Opening film This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection by Lemohang Jerimiah Mosese was awarded for Artistic Bravery and Best Direction. The jury felt this film was a work of art. The late Mary Twala, referred to as the matriarch of the industry, was rewarded this year’s Best Actress Award.

Film Stam (The Tree), directed by Louw Venter won the Best South African Film Award. One of the jury members noted: “The Tree is succeeding in taking an entire South African population and condensing it in 1 film in a very successful way”.

Best Cinematography Award went to Take Me Somewhere Nice by Ena Sendijarevic. Farewell Amor scooped two awards for Best Screenplay and Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwire was awarded for Best Actor, the first award that he has ever received as an actor. In his speech, he mentioned the profound impact that the late, great Joseph Shabalala had on his career.

The Awards for Best Editing and Best Film were awarded to Force of Habit a film from Finland, directed by seven directors and edited by nine editors. The directors are Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi and Miia Tervo.

The Amnesty International Human Rights Award was given to FADMA: Even Ants Have Wings by Jawad Rhalib. Navlia RawHeath from Amnesty International Durban shared that the film was chosen because of its fascinating depiction of the passive resistance and gentle yet firm action towards changing deep-seated prejudices about stereotypical roles of the sexes.

The features jury consisted of Angus Gibson and Layla Swaart from South Africa. Mykel Parish Ajaere from Nigeria, Or Lee-Tal from Israel and Abbessi Akhamie from the USA. The short film jury consisted of Bongi Ndaba, Edmund Mhlongo, Teboho Pietersen, Jayan Moodley from South Africa and Munyaradzi Chidzonga from Zimbabwe.

The documentary jury consisted of Lesedi Moche, Monica Rorvik, Theresa Hill and Enver Samuel from South Africa and Dr Cynthia Fuchs from the USA.

LA LUCIA ANTIQUE AND COLLECTABLE FAIR

The La Lucia Antique and Collectable Fair will be back in full swing on Sunday October 4, 2020.

All the traders will be displaying their treasures and the Fair takes place on the lower ground floor at La Lucia Mall and runs from 09h00 to 15h30. Entry is free.

 

EVITA’S NEW LOOK

(Evita Bezuidenhout. Pics by Hentie van der Merwe - hentie@darlingsweet.co.za)

Evita Bezuidenhout (aka Pieter-Dirk Uys) celebrates her 85th birthday with a new look.

"Six months of lockdown meant I couldn’t get to the hairdresser for my weekly repairs,” she says. I was horrified at first to notice a silver lining to the dark brown. By Level 2, I had taken my scissors and snipped away gently into a practical style. Clicks then sent me a wonderful gift of shampoo. Now it's short, soft and manageable. How many women were in the same situation? No wonder the pandemic becomes a damn panic, forcing us to adapt and not dye!

"Turning 85 demands a new energy from me. Once the world squirms out of its straitjacket of isolation and fear, the so-called ‘new normal’ might be too much like the Depression of the 1930s which led to the rise of Fascism. The economic outlook is bleak. Political vision is lacking. A confused collective ANC leadership is unable to lead. The invisible Covid-19 virus has made the virus of corruption, empowerment and capture even more visible. Meanwhile, there is nothing we can do to change the reality of Covid-19. So stick to the rules of survival.

"Focus on your family, friends, neighbours and community. The many examples of good neighbourliness and support during the past six months have inspired me. President Ramaphosa has said members of the ANC known to be corrupt must leave their positions. It is time to find the honest comrades. Life will go on with or without Covid. Let us make community the jewel in the crown of democracy. Let the buck not stop with government; it will be captured. The buck now stops with us. The future now starts with us. The tender for orange jumpsuits is open for business.

Watch this space (with your mask on!) - @TannieEvita

SMALL PLEASURES: REVIEW

Chambers depicts beautifully the society of the post-war years with its shibboleths, a world more easily shocked and more gullible than ours, but in its own way more resilient and kinder. (Margaret von Klemperer, courtesy of the Witness)

If someone merely gave a précis of the plot of Small Pleasures, it might sound unutterably bleak, but in the skilled and compassionate hands of Clare Chambers, it is pure delight. There is glorious dry humour, a clever plot and pitch-perfect period detail.

The novel is set in 1950s England, a time when any pleasures for the suburban middle classes were inevitably small – the first cigarette of the day, a bar of chocolate, the unexpected treat of a day out or a new acquaintance. Jean Swinney is a reporter on a local newspaper and as the only woman on the staff looks after the household hints and so-called women’s interest stories, small and parochial ones. Then one day something with a bit more meat on it lands on her desk: a local woman is claiming that her ten-year-old daughter was the product of a virgin birth. No man was involved. If the story pans out, it will be the making of Jean, and the paper.

There was no DNA testing then, and the idea of parthenogenesis was causing interest in scientific circles. So Jean sets off to meet the Tilburys. Like anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom, for Jean a story like that sets the cynicism antennae quivering. But she finds herself liking Gretchen, her daughter Margaret and her initially unprepossessing husband Howard. And the story seems curiously believable. Gretchen was in a convent sanatorium dormitory with rheumatoid arthritis when the conception must have occurred.

Jean’s life becomes deeply involved with the Tilbury family, relishing the contact and the investigation. It is a relief from her humdrum life which involves her dull and largely unappreciated work and looking after her querulous and increasingly frail mother. Chambers depicts beautifully the society of the post-war years with its shibboleths, a world more easily shocked and more gullible than ours, but in its own way more resilient and kinder.

The tension is maintained throughout, though the questions that are asked are small ones in the wider scheme of life. Even the minor characters are rounded and believable and the sympathy we feel, particularly for Jean and Howard, is genuine. Small Pleasures is the sort of book that will stick in the memory for a long time after the final, tragic, page is turned.

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN-13: 9781474613910 - Margaret von Klemperer

Monday, September 28, 2020

MAIS QUE NADA! AT ST CLEMENTS


Well-known director Pieter Scholtz, St Clements’ Mondays at Six programme organiser, invites you to share an evening of rousing Portuguese Latino old-school music with Durban’s “fabulous kick-arse” group: Mais Que Nada!

Featuring John Skuy, Tony Fisher and other members of this first-rate show-band, popular on the Durban music scene for the past ten years, the show takes place on October 5, 2020, at 18h00.

Expect a lot “more than nothing” (to translate their name from Portuguese). As this is a pass-the-hat gig for the band with no couvert, please be sure and put R50 or more into the donations box when it is passed around.

Wear a mask. Outdoor seating - bring a blanket and dress warmly. Maximum four guests per table.

Table bookings essential through St Clements on 031 202 2511. (Seating limited. No walk-ins.)

Bookings limited to diners only in support of St Clements restaurant and staff. To help with safe distancing, patrons are requested to arrive before 18h00 to open tab and place orders. If you wish to dine after the presentation, place your order before 18h00.

St Clements is situated at 191 Musgrave Road. Mondays @ Six programmes run between 18h00 and 19h00.

Follow Mais Que Nada! on Facebook.

LIVE JAZZ MEDITATION AT ST CLEMENTS


Well-known musician and commercial strategist Naresh Veeran will be performing in a "pay what you can" Live Jazz Meditation Duet on Saturday (October 3, 2020) at St Clements on Musgrave.

Swing by for some enjoyable old school jazz. The music starts at 15h00.

Booking is essential through St Clements on 031 202 2511. St Clements is situated at 191 Musgrave Road.

ST CLEMENTS SHORT STORY CONTEST

 Deadline: October 14, 2020

 Calling all St Clements scribes and would-be scribes in and around Durban and across the world. The no-boundaries St Clements “Mondays at Six” event is open to all.

 -New Short Story Contest

-       -Theme: The Bells of St Clements and The Belles of St Clements.

-       -Story length: 500 words.

The contest closes Wednesday October 14, 2020 at midnight South African time.

Email your entry/entries on or before this date to Wanda Hennig at wandahennig@gmail.com

The subject line must indicate “St Clements Short Story Contest” and Your Name.

Hennig will reply, to acknowledge your email has been received. She won’t read or check the entries. Any without names or that don’t follow the guidelines will – unfortunately - be deleted.

Your story can be a Word doc or a cut-and-paste. Either way, write the story title and your name (yes, again) in the body of the email. In this way she can easily keep tabs on entries received. You may enter more than one story. Each story must come in a separate email and follow the same guidelines.

Winner/s will be announced at the November 2, 2020, “Monday at Six at St Clements” soiree. Most likely the winning story will be read. Details to be decided.

The Judge will be writer and author, Graham Linscott. You can subscribe to Graham’s writings on "Linscott at Large of Patreon".

For more information contact Wanda Hennig on 072-664-3170 or email wandahennig@gmail.com

 

RODHAM: REVIEW


This book is a powerfully written story that combines fact and fiction in a finely woven, intricately entwined tale of what actually happened and “what ifs”. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

What if Hillary had said no the third time Bill proposed? How would things have turned out for them, for America, for the world? This is the question the author asks – and answers - in the novel Rodham written by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Hillary Diane Rodham is a highly intelligent and ambitious woman who knows, from a young age, that she wants to make a difference and wants to make her mark on the world. At the beginning of the novel, beautifully illustrated and with fascinating detail, the reader gets to know the young Hillary and realizes that she is ahead of her time. At Wellesley, at her graduation, she makes her first groundbreaking speech that is so powerful that it attracts national media attention, including that of Life magazine.

She attends Yale Law School where, in 1969 as a first year, only about 10% of the students are female. It is during her second year at Yale that she first sees Bill Clinton and is immediately drawn to his physical presence and she compares his stature and appearance to that of a lion.

The first half of the book deals with Hillary’s relationships with her family, school friends and students and, of course, her growing feelings towards Bill. As their feelings for one another develop into a more serious relationship, she follows him to Arkansas. Bill Clinton, from a very early stage, has his political career very clearly mapped out. Hillary supports him in these endeavours and assists him in his campaigns to earn votes. She pursues her own career during this time of being his girlfriend but she definitely takes a step back in her own ambitions to help him fulfil his dream of one day, becoming president.

An incident that is brought to Hillary’s attention and which Bill denies, is the catalyst that causes her to leave Bill. At the age of twenty-three she walks away from the man that she truly loved and it’s the hardest thing she has ever had to do.

The second half of the book deals with Hillary Rodham without Bill. It focuses on her career and her political life. This is where the reader needs to be able to come to grips with what is fiction and what is historical fact. At times it felt quite surreal and it was rather challenging getting one’s head around the real and the unreal life of Hillary Rodham.

Once one comes to grips with this, it becomes more fascinating to imagine what could have perhaps happened if Hillary had indeed said no to Bill Clinton. There are parts of the book that deal extensively with politics, fundraising and campaigning and this allows the reader a glimpse into the workings behind the scenes of electioneering and campaigning. Of course, no presidential campaign is ever fought, or won, without playing dirty and without accusations being flung in all directions. Hillary Rodham has her fair share of this and how she deals with it is intriguing.

This book is a powerfully written story that combines fact and fiction in a finely woven, intricately entwined tale of what actually happened and what ifs.

Curtis Sittenfeld is a wonderful author and I have always been a fan of her work. Several of her other books, American Wife, Sisterland, The Man of my Dreams, to mention a few, I thoroughly enjoyed but Rodham, in my opinion is probably her most ambitious novel to date. Having said that though, I suspect readers will either love it or hate it. I doubt whether there will be an in-between emotion when it comes to this book!

Rodham is published by Penguin Random House - ISBN 978-0-8575-2613-7 - Fiona de Goede

 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

‘DUST’ FLIES INTO DSTV BOXOFFICE


Following the phenomenal reaction to writer/director Pieter du Plessis’s debut feature film, DUST at its World Premiere as the closing film of the Durban International Film Festival on September 19, 2020, it was announced by Sanjeev Singh, Videovision Entertainment’s Director of Distribution and Acquisition that the film will be released on DSTV BoxOffice on October 9, 2020.

DUST follows Rachel (Shana Mans) and her traumatised family who find asylum at a remote farmstead in a barren landscape.  She believes that they have found a place to rest before moving on again, until the matriarch of the farm asks her to marry one of her sons. This sets off a cascade of clashing allegiances and ideologies that become more and more constricting to the young woman, her disabled father and adopted little brother. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, DUST is a slow burning tension thriller.

DUST, which features female lead characters, delves into issues that impact on feminism in the modern world. The film looks at the different roles women play in society as they alternately fight against, and participate in, the systems that oppress them. DUST also explores toxic masculinity, in the form of the overtly abusive kind, and also the more benign forms that it sometimes takes in our society.

Pieter du Plessis said, “The release of DUST on DSTV BoxOffice gives us an opportunity to share the film with a wider audience.  For me, making a thriller like DUST is about taking the right tone, and how I could move audiences towards the emotions I wanted them to experience. I hope that audiences are immersed in this experience and feel that they are part of the narrative.”

Sanjeev Singh commented, “We are pleased to have concluded arrangements to make DUST available on DSTV BoxOffice platform from October 9, 2020. DUST is a cinematic achievement for Pieter who crafted an engaging thriller that audiences will be able to experience in the comfort of their homes.”

DUST is an Anant Singh presentation of a Local Motion Pictures & Videovision Entertainment Production in partnership with the Department of Trade & Industry & Rigel Films. The film stars Shana Mans, Michelle Bradshaw, Kaz Mcfadden, Gustav Gerdener, Danielle Goodall, Deon Coetzee, Justin Strydom, Christian Gous and David Butler. It is Executive Produced by Sudhir Pragjee, Sanjeev Singh & Robert Naidoo; Produced by Anant Singh & Greig Buckle and Written & Directed by Pieter du Plessis.

NALEDI THEATRE AWARDS NEW ONLINE CATEGORY


Following the successful online live streaming of the 16th Annual Naledi Theatre Awards, the Naledi task team and judges are assessing the theatre scene for 2021.

“As restrictions on live theatre continue to constrict productions, we have decided to introduce a new category, that of ONLINE Productions,” said CEO and Artistic Director Dawn Lindberg. “All the same criteria will apply as for live productions, in that the online shows need to be fully professional other than those falling into the tertiary/incubator category, but there will be no minimum number of performances required.

“All Naledi judges will need to be given free access to watch the online productions and we are currently drawing up a special panel of judges for this purpose. The date for the 2021 Naledi Awards is currently set for Monday June 28, 2021, at the Joburg Theatre.”

Included so far are the live productions staged during 2020 up to lockdown and immediately commencing now for online and live theatre until June 1, 2021.

The judges will only watch online shows to which they have been specifically invited, and so all producers need to formally invite Naledi judges through the chairman of the judging panels, Renos Spanoudes, on rnspanoudes@gmail.com

Saturday, September 26, 2020

FOLDS AND FAULT EXHIBITION: VIRTUAL PREVIEW


(Invitation features a work by Selloane Moeti, Umfazi Wethu, 2019, Red clay and oil paint on canvas)

Art curator, Carol Brown who is the founder of the art consultancy Curate.A.Space and a former director of the Durban Art Gallery – welcomes art lovers with a new project:

“As we all know, the Visual Arts sector has really suffered from isolation but I am glad to say we are back on track.  Things have changed for galleries and exhibitions but we, at Curate.A.Space, have faced the challenge and spent some time during lockdown in upskilling our Internet skills. One of the outcomes of this is that we are now showing an Instagram preview of the exhibition Folds and Faults, Brown explains.

“This exhibition had been planned for July 2020 in the Johannes Stegmann Gallery at the University of the Free State. This was obviously a no- go and we are happy to report that the gallery have committed to showing it in their space next year in July 2021 where they celebrate their annual Arts Festival with great events.

“And just as a bonus we are now offering an Instagram preview of the exhibition. Do follow it and see some exciting new works from African women artists working around the theme of women's lives,” she adds.

Those interested in more information about artists, prices, etc should contact Curate.A.Space at curateaspace.com

PAIN & GLORY FOR M-NET


(Right: Antonio Banderas)

M-Net (channel 101) will screen the movie Pain & Glory tomorrow (September 27, 2020) at 22h45.

Oscar-winner Pedro Almodóvar directs Antonio Banderas in this moving film. A director, suffering from a chronic illness, reflects on his life choices.

The film narrates a series of reunions of Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his decline. Some of these reunions play out in real time, others are recalled through flashbacks: his childhood in the 1960s, when he moved with his family to the primitive village of Paterna, his schooling, his first adult love in Madrid in the 1980s, the pain of the breakup of this relationship, writing as a therapy to forget, the discovery of cinema, facing the impossibility of continuing filming, etc.

Pain and Glory stars Asier Etxeandia, Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Julieta Serrano and Leonardo Sbaraglia.