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Wednesday, September 30, 2020


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.