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Saturday, July 4, 2015


(A scene from White Bird in a Blizzard)

Videovision Entertainment will premiere six films at the 36th Durban International Film Festival, which takes place from July 16 to 26.

The films, which will all have either South African and African premieres at the festival, are Wolf Totem, Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, Strangerland, Mommy, Coming Home and White Bird in a Blizzard.

“As a proudly Durban based company, we are pleased to be continuing our partnership with the DIFF by bringing these great films by some of the world’s top film-makers to the festival.” says Sanjeev Singh, director of acquisition and distribution for Videovision Entertainment. “Of particular significance for Durban, is the attendance of the award winning director Jean-Jacques Annaud at the African premiere of his visually spectacular film Wolf Totem on July 20 and the selection of the animated adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s seminal work, The Prophet directed by Roger Allers, as the closing night film of the festival.”

The much-lauded Wolf Totem by the celebrated, award-winning French director Jean-Jacques Annaud is a visually beautiful adaptation of the Chinese best-seller by Jiang Rong. The film has received critical acclaim with Variety calling the film a ‘viscerally powerful drama,’ while The Hollywood Reporter said that the film was ‘spectacularly staged…stunning’ and Screen International pronounced the film to be ‘a proud throwback in look and spirit to a kind of filmmaking we don’t see much anymore.’ The film has also achieved box office success, reaping in US$ 111 million in China and US$9 million in France.

“We are pleased that director Annaud who has a string of blockbusters to his name such as Seven Years in Tibet, Quest for Fire, The Name of the Rose and The Bear, will be attending the festival.” says Sanjeev Singh. “This is great news for Durban, the festival and indeed the film industry as well, as his presence will stimulate the conversation around film-making in the country, on a global level. The French Institute in South Africa and ourselves look forward to hosting him in Durban and giving him a unique South African experience.”

Frédéric Chambon, Film and Media Regional Attaché at the French Embassy in South Africa, adds: “Jean-Jacques Annaud is one of the most internationally renowned French filmmakers and an Academy Award winner having worked with many stars like Brad Pitt, Sean Connery and Jude Law, to name a few. The French Institute of South Africa is proud to have made it possible for him to attend the DIFF, together with UniFrance and Videovision Entertainment, as part of its efforts to strengthen the links between France and South Africa in the film industry.”

Inspired by the beloved classic Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, the film is a richly-animated tale of an unlikely friendship between a young, mischievous girl and an imprisoned poet. Interwoven with Gibran’s lyrical and inspiring words on the true nature of love, work, freedom and marriage, the film is written and directed by Roger Allers and features the voices of Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek-Pinault, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Krasinski, Frank Langella and Alfred Molina. The film had its World Premiere in the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival this year.

White Bird in a Blizzard directed by Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin), stars Shailene Woodley, Eva Green and Angela Bassett. This dramatic thriller, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, has been described as sexy and haunting, tells the story of a young woman discovering her own sexuality when her mother mysteriously disappears. At first she is not impacted by it, but on returning home on a break from college, finds herself confronted with the truth about her mother's departure, and her own denial about the events surrounding it.

The multi award-winning, Mommy, by acclaimed director Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats, Tom at the Farm), had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is set in a fictional Canada, where a new law allows parents to abandon their troubled children to the hospital system. Diane “Die” Despres (Anne Dorval), a feisty single mother, has to pick up her teenage son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) from the institution where he lives, because he's hurt a smaller boy and so sets into motion the events of Mommy.

Strangerland directed by Kim Farrant starring Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is about a family that finds their dull life in a rural outback town rocked after their two teenage children disappear into the desert, sparking disturbing rumours of their past.

Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s drama romance, Coming Home, which was in the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Selection, is an epic story of love and loss, is pitted to become a new classic in Chinese cinema. Coming Home is described as “a deeply affectionate film with great ideological power, a milestone for Chinese cinema” by Mao Yu, Deputy Director of the China Film Bureau.

“We would like to thank Videovision Entertainment for their constant interest in, and contribution to, the festival by providing top-end films from celebrated directors.” says Pedro Pimenta, Director of DIFF. “We have a vision to provide our audiences with films that are at once accessible and aesthetically pleasing, and to ensure that some of the films screened provide stimulation for the growth of the South African film industry, and these titles certainly speak to both of these notions.”

The 36th Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the College of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development & Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.

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