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Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Extended deadline for submissions: April 15, 2021

The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal presents the 42nd edition of South Africa’s longest-running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which will take place from July 22 to August 1, 2021. The festival is widely regarded as one of the leading film festivals on the African continent and a vital event on the international film calendar.

Durban International Film Festival opened for submissions by filmmakers of their feature films, documentaries and shorts in February, 2021, and has received an impressive amount of 2,500 films thus far. Head of programming, Chipo Zhou, will be supported by 10 film industry stalwarts who will watch and select films that will get a spot on the DIFF2021 line-up.


Programming team

Since 2017, Chipo Zhou has worked as the Durban International Film Festival's Head of Programming and Curator. For nearly a decade and a half, Zhou has worked in the film industry in various capacities. She is a member of the Short Film Conference Board of Directors and previously served on the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe Board of Directors. She has served on several local and international film festival juries and project selection panels for the Talents Durban and Realness Projects, respectively.

The festival's theme is Framing the Future, Cinema Unleashed, and DIFF is searching for films that provide concrete strategies for adapting to our complex and ever-changing world. Chipo Zhou, festival curator, says, "We are very excited about the quality of submissions, and the team is sure that we will have a diverse and engaging event this year. The programming team mainly comprises experts from across the continent as a way to better diversify the programme and promote pan-African collaboration. The Festival has also partnered with several organisations that are working in production and will be curating some special projects from the continent that focus on and provide hope for the future of mankind. 

(Left: Chioma Onyenwe)

The shorts category will be programmed by a team of film industry experts from West Africa, led by the founder of Raconteur Productions Chioma Onyenwe, who is also Creative Producer Indaba Fellow and artistic director of the Africa International Film Festival.

She will be supported by reviewers Egar Ntanyi, a line producer at Raconteur Productions, Femi Omloluabi and experienced writer and content creator Ruth Dulac.

The documentaries will be selected by a South African team headed by film festival programmer, television producer, and documentary film advisor Lesedi Oluko Moche (SA). Filmmaker Berry Hahn (MAD/SA) and film- and television producer Lesedi Siswana (SA) will join this team as reviewers.

(Right: Lesedi Oluko Moche)

Award-winning film- and media producer, director and trainer Firdoze Bulbulia (SA) is the programmer for the features category. Supporting her will be film festival curator Justine Atkinson (UK), filmmaker, producer and seasoned broadcaster Faith Isiakpere (NGA/UK) and actor, director, educator and award-winning filmmaker Chike Nwoffiah (USA).



DIFF contributes to expanding filmmaker networks, attracts local and international media, creates public awareness of South African and African cinema, and promotes and celebrates African cinema, highlighting the possibilities of local film production and stimulating the film industry's growth. DIFF proactively promotes the African film industry's development and provides a strategic exhibition platform for local products alongside international films within a professionally implemented and reputable cultural experience.

DIFF has three main strands: the seminar and workshop component to stimulate industry development and a community engagement programme to service marginalised audiences and a film showcase to celebrate cinema.


The extended deadline for submissions is April 15, 2021. For eligibility, submission fees, and to submit, visit the DIFF profile: