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Sunday, July 19, 2009


Durban film-maker to shine at Durban International Film Festival.

Fresh from scooping a clutch of accolades at the CIAK Junior Film Festival Awards in Italy earlier this month, a 12 year-old Durban girl, Amber-Jay van Rooyen, has been invited to take part in the 2009 Durban International Film Festival, in the Short Film Category. This will be the first public airing of her film Coming Home, a story telling about a young city girl who moves to the farm and battles to settle in. It is on the farm that she meets an old Zulu Sangoma who teaches her three important life lessons and is based on Amber-Jay’s own experiences.

Amber-Jay’s story Learn To Be Yourself was the winning story from KwaZulu-Natal in the SABC’s Lights Camera Action film project in 2006. Of the 23 films submitted at the CIAK Festival, 12 were chosen for the finals and Amber-Jay’s, Coming Home, received the award for winning the South African leg of the competition (there were four submissions from the SABC).

"The Durban Film Office congratulates Amber-Jay on her magnificent achievement. We are very proud of the emerging young talent in Durban. Over the next three years, the Durban Film office will roll out a series of programme that will focus on nurturing these talents and further opportunities to engage with the global film community."

In addition, Amber-Jay garnered the award for Best Actor/Actress and the overall ‘Best Film’ award in Italy. In addition, she received the UNESCO Fellini Medal awarded to the film that best embodied the spirit and culture of its country.

The South African entry was also nominated for the Broadcasters award and for the Italian Childrens Choice award, won by Germany and Italy respectively. Of the eight categories, Amber-Jay was nominated in five and won three.

“There was a lot of interest from the other entrants and Amber-Jay was asked a lot of questions about Zulu culture and the relevance of ancestors,” says her mother Judi, who accompanied her. “She was called on to sing the song she had written and performed in the film and had the opportunity to mix with children from all over the world.”

"I was hoping to win at least one award," says Amber-Jay. "When I won Best Actor/Actress, I felt that I could relax because I had achieved my dream. Then I was awarded the UNESCO Fellini Medal and I couldn't believe it. Finally, when they announced that my film had won Best Film, it was like it was all happening in slow motion," continues the elated Amber-Jay.

"There were so many firsts for me. I had never been on a plane before, I have never been overseas before, I have never been on a bus or a train and now I experienced it all."

Amber-Jay's film is scheduled to be flighted on SABC 1 early next year.