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Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Durban International Film Festival presents a number of films where music is centre stage.

Film scores are one of the crucial elements of great cinema, but the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) presents a number of films where music is centre stage.

The strong music strand in this year’s festival, which runs from July 23 to August 2, includes Emma Franz’s compelling Intangible Asset No. 82 about a jazz drummer and his search for an elusive South Korean grandmaster musician. Leading Australian musician Simon Barker embarks upon a long journey, personal as well as geographical, after being captivated by an album of Korean percussion instruments. Numerous inquiries finally yield a name of the shamanic object of his quest: Kim Seok-chul, officially recognised as “the 82nd most valuable intangible cultural asset of the Republic of Korea”.

Nora, a brilliant performance film of the life of dancer Nora Chipaumire, features music by Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo.

The Silver Fez, a world premiere at DIFF, is an intense look at the intense rivalry of the Cape Malay music scene, directed by Lloyd Ross, himself a well-known figure on the music scene for his legendary Shifty Records which distributed some of South Africa’s most cutting-edge, and contentious, music in the 80’s. In the film, we meet Kaatji Davids, a house painter with barely two cents to rub together. But he does have an old banjo, loyal friends and the audacity to imagine that he might topple Hadji Bucks, the undisputed champion of Cape Malay music. The prize is the Silver Fez, Holy Grail of Cape Town’s Islamic subculture.

Two Senegalese legends Yande Codou and Youssou N’dour can be seen in Yandé Codou, The Griot Of Senghor and Youssou N’dour: I Bring What I Love, respectively. Eighty-year old Yandé Codou Sène is one of the last remaining singers of polyphonic Sérère poetry and in The Griot of Senghor we are offered an intimate look at a true diva who has travelled through Senegalese history at the side of its mythical president-poet Léopold Sédar Senghor. I Bring What I Love chronicles N’dour’s tribulations and eventual triumph when his religious album, Egypt, that was at first branded blasphemous in Senegal, wins a Grammy award and full acceptance.

Other music docs include Roger Lucey’s Aria Del Africa, an inspiring look at how opera is being taken up by black South African youth.

At 12h00 on July 24 at Royal Hotel, a panel discussion entitled Film and Music – The Marriage That Works will unpack the relationship and the processes. Participants will include Emma Franz, Lloyd Ross, accomplished musician Roger Lucey and Revel Fox whose Long Street, which has its world premiere at DIFF, features Busi Mhlongo.

See all film synopses, screening schedules and workshop programme at

Principal screening venues of the festival are the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre; Nu Metro Cinecentre - Suncoast; Ster Kinekor Junction – Musgrave; Cinema Nouveau - Gateway; Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in Kwa Mashu; and The Royal Hotel, with further screenings in township areas where cinemas are non-existent.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. Call 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1650 for further details.

In a year deeply constrained by funding cutbacks festival organisers, the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN), highlight the important role played by principal funders the National Film and Video Foundation, Stichting Doen, HIVOS, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, City of Durban, Industrial Development Corporation, Department of Arts and Culture (Film, Video and Sound Archives) and the support from East Coast Radio, and other valued sponsors and partners. Talent Campus Durban, a cooperation project with the Berlinale Film Festival is supported by the German Embassy, Goethe Institute of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, and Art Moves Africa.