Wavescape Festival Unveils Ocean-Conscious Line-up For Durban International Film Festival

The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival presented by VANS has announced a bumper lineup of 19 films at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), with the addition of a unique evening of talks dedicated to the ocean.

In keeping with an increasingly urgent mandate to conserve our oceans and our planet, Wavecape brings Slide Night, featuring talks by ocean thought leaders on a wide range of topics – including science, sustainability, adventure and activism – to its programme of films to be screened at DIFF from 21 to 26 July.

Slide Night, which is attended by sellout crowds in Cape Town every December, will be hosted by PETCO and Wavescape at the South African Association for Marine Biological Research at uShaka Marine World on Thursday 25 July. Well known ocean advocate, free diver and Durban surfer Olivia Symcox will MC the evening, with talks ranging from how to recycle your trash to a Sea Shepherd skipper speaking about the activist group’s work in South Africa.

Wavescape also announced several blockbuster documentaries for DIFF, including Andy Irons: Kissed by God and Trouble: The Lisa Andersen Story that will be screened at Musgrave Ster Kinekor.

The award-winning Cape Town big wave movie Satori, as well as the Mikey February classic Can’t Steal Our Vibe, and two other short films will be screened on opening night at the Bay of Plenty in Durban on Sunday 21 July at 7pm. This screening is free, and the members of the public are invited to wrap up warmly and bring picnics as well as chairs or blankets to sit on.

The festival then moves on to two days of free screenings at uShaka Marine World and three nights at Musgrave Ster Kinekor. Several African premieres will be screened, including How to Learn How to Surf, a hilarious spoof of surf culture fresh off its world premiere in the US. Thank You Mother features South Africa and Australia, and is narrated by Australian filmmaker Albert Falzon, who made the seminal 1970 surf film Morning of the Earth.

What is a surf film festival without huge waves? Wavescape will present the African premiere of White Rhino, featuring gigantic waves in Hawaii, Tahiti, and Fiji. Nordurland, the other premiere, is shot in the Arctic Circle, and will no doubt have Durban surfers running for their wetsuits, which they do when water temperatures drop below 28 degrees Celsius.

Other films include the ode to the ocean, Emocean, filmed in Australia, California and Hawaii and featuring conservationist Sacha Guggenheimer, Pipeline surfing legend Jamie O’Brien, big wave pioneer Jeff Clark, iconic surf filmmaker Paul Witzig, and Hawaiian photographer Brent Bielmann.

Transcending Waves, directed by the Gauchos del Mar brothers Julian and Joaquin Azulay, who will be in attendance, features a sweeping epic shot in the Falkland Islands, where they try to use surfing to help heal the scars created by the 1982 War between Britain and Argentina.

Andy Irons: Kissed by God is the untold and tragic story of Andy Irons’ bipolar disorder and opioid addiction.

To book for SLIDE NIGHT ONLY at Ushaka Marine World, go to

To book for Wavescape at Musgrave Ster Kinekor, book online

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For more information about the DIFF go to

Bay of Plenty lawns, 7pm, Sun 21 July
Arena 5, Village Walk, uShaka Marine, 6.30pm, Mon 22-Tue 23 July
Ster-Kinekor, Musgrave Shopping Centre, 6.30pm, Wed 24-Fri 26 July


South African Premiere Of Buddha In Africa At Durban International Film Festival

Buddha in Africa, directed by KwaZulu-Natal-based filmmaker, Nicole Schafer, has been selected into the International Documentary Competition at the 40th Durban International Film Festival (18 to 28 July) for the second leg of its South African Premiere.

This delicately observed documentary about a Malawian teenager caught between his African roots and Chinese upbringing; was chosen as the Opening Night feature for the Encounters Documentary Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg where it also received a Backsberg Encounters Audience Award. The film had its World Premiere at the prestigious Hot Docs Canadian International Festival in April and the Sydney International Film Festival in June with several more local and international festivals lined up for this year.

The film follows the intimate story of Enock Alu, a Malawian teenager growing up in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock, in his final year of school, has to make some tough decisions about his future. Will he return to his relatives in his home village or study abroad in Taiwan? Set against China’s expanding influence on the continent, Buddha in Africa provides a unique insight into the impact of cultural soft power on the identity and imagination of a young boy and his community.

“Most of the focus of Chinese involvement in Africa has been on the economic impact, whereas this story shows the influence of Chinese culture,” says writer and director Nicole Schafer. “For so long Africa has been influenced by Western culture and economic systems. I was struck by how this orphanage is strangely reminiscent of the Christian missions during the colonial era, only here African children have Chinese names and instead of learning about the West, they are learning about Chinese culture and history. I feel that the orphanage is the perfect metaphor to explore not only the impact of Chinese involvement in Africa, but also as a mirror for the legacy of Western colonialism on the African continent.”

Enock Alu (16) is one of three hundred orphans from rural Malawi growing up in a charity-based NGO founded by a Buddhist monk from Taiwan. It is one of several similar institutions around Southern Africa aimed at using Chinese culture and Buddhism to uplift the lives of orphans in Africa.

Filmed over five years, this essential film provides a valuable insight into some of the challenges affecting vulnerable children in Sub-Saharan Africa and poses complex questions around culture, identity, imperialism and the impact of foreign development aid.

“I feel Enock’s internal conflict of trying to hold onto his own culture and then the sacrifices that come with embracing the opportunities afforded by Chinese engagement in many ways reflects the dilemma around the future development of the African continent. How does Africa move forward and participate within an increasingly globalised world without becoming victim to yet another system of economic and cultural domination?”

Schafer goes on to say, “There are big differences between Western and Eastern perspectives and we worked hard to balance the African and Chinese points of view in the film. I have been interested in how different audiences have responded to the film. International audiences seem to be more interested in the political context, while locally, in South Africa, audiences have been deeply moved by Enock’s personal story. As a filmmaker, I have chosen to document his story, and am pleased it is providing a diverse global audience the opportunity to examine the complex and layered world in which we Africans find ourselves.”

The film is an international co-production between Thinking Strings Media based in the KZN Midlands in South Africa, and Momento Film in Sweden. Renowned Paris-based company CAT & Docs will be representing the film internationally. AfriDocs is the African broadcast partner.

The project received the IDFA Most Promising Documentary Award when it was first pitched at the Durban FilmMart in 2011 and has since been awarded funding from several international funds including the IDFA Bertha Europe Fund in the Netherlands, Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Doc Fund and the Alter Cine Foundation in Canada, Chicken & Egg Pictures in New York, the South African National Film and Video Foundation and the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission.

The film premieres at DIFF on Saturday, July 20 at 4pm at Musgrave Sterkinekor, and has a second screening at Suncoast Cine Centre on Thursday, July 25 at 6.30pm.

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Durban International Film Festival Reveals Programmers For Its 40th Edition

As the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) gears up for its 40th edition, eight programmers have been working tirelessly for four months to consolidate a strong programme for this major milestone in the history of film on the continent.

DIFF, organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, takes place this year from 18 to 28 July in venues around Durban, South Africa. It takes the record of being one of the oldest and largest festivals in Africa, presenting over 150 films, while also offering workshops, industry seminars, discussion forums and outreach activities that include screenings in townships areas, where cinemas are non-existent.

“In celebration of 40 years of DIFF, we are proud to reveal our strong line-up of programmers,” says DIFF Manager Chipo Zhou. “Our features panel includes Tsitsi Dangaremba (Zimbabwe), Gabrielle Kelly (USA), and Peter Machen (SA/Germany), the documentaries panel is made up of Theresa Hill (South Africa) and Nataleah Hunter-Young (Canada); while the shorts panel comprises Lisa Ogdie (USA), Fibby Kioria (Uganda) and Chioma Onyenwe (Nigeria).”

“The role of the programmers is vital in the shaping of a festival, and we are very excited to be working with such internationally-acclaimed and recognised individuals, representing a diverse range of expertise and interests. Their task, to select 150 films from an incredible 12300 entries to this year’s festival, was a formidable challenge, and we are most grateful to them. We had, as part of the DIFF extended family, 60 reviewers from around the globe to support them, and we look forward to locking down the programme over the next few weeks, and delivering a festival befitting its “fabulously fortieth” year.”

Zimbabwean playwright, poet, activist and award-winning novelist and filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangaremba, has produced several documentaries and short short films, and has credits on most of Zimbabwe’s feature film classics. Her award-winning short film Kare Kare Zvako (Mother’s Day, 2005) was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Theresa Hill, with 20 years of experience working in the documentary industry, is responsible for acquisitions, programming, marketing and planning for the online platform AfriDocs, and is also board member of the Ladima Foundation, a Pan-African non-profit organisation which aims to contribute to correcting the major imbalances within the industry.

Well-known writer and critic, former manager of the Durban International Film Festival, and long-time programmer of the fest, Peter Machen, who is currently based in Berlin, makes a welcome return to the programming fold. Peter heads the media cooperative The Communication Factory and works for a plant-based advocacy organisation, and continues to write and reviews films on a number of platforms.

Nataleah Hunter-Young is a film programmer, media artist, and doctoral student in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. She has experience in supporting the programming for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Durban International Film Festival.

Lisa Ogdie is a shorts programmer for the Sundance Film Festival and also Membership and Talent Development Manager for BAFTA Los Angeles. She has been part of the Sundance shorts programming team since 2009, selecting the Sundance short film slate from over 9,000 submissions, and has moderated Q&A discussions and panels for BAFTA Los Angeles, Sundance, Toronto Film Festival and the American Pavilion at Cannes.

Screenwriter/Producer Gabrielle Kelly is on the Faculty of the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, with expertise and a passion for global storytelling, particularly in Asia. She has mentored labs and screenwriting masterclasses around the world, programmed, judged and created film festivals from Guam to Azerbaijan and is an expert on Media Labs and international story development for screens and pages. She worked with New York director Sidney Lumet and in Hollywood with numerous directors, writers and producers. As well as running producer Robert Evan’s company at Paramount for several years, she has also worked at HBO, CBS Films, Eddie Murphy Productions and Warner Bros.

Fibby Kioria is a Programme Director of Maisha Film Lab, a leadership development organization founded by Mira Nair to empower visionary filmmakers in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda by giving them the tools to tell their own stories through film. She was the Line Producer on the Mira Nair and Zippy Kimundu short documentary portrait of Robert Katende, A Fork, a Spoon & a Knight. She went on to produce the music video for the song ‘# 1 Spice’ from Disney’s Queen of Katwesoundtrack. She is also an Associate Producer at Afro Films International.

Nigerian filmmaker, Chioma Onyenwe has a background in economics and management from University of Lagos and Imperial College London. She plunged into fulltime film-making in 2014. She is the Programme Director for the Africa International Film Festival. Her first feature 8 Bars and a Clef, was nominated for the 2016 AMAA Award for Best First Feature Film.

For more information, visit or any of DIFF’s social media pages.

Awards Festival

39th Durban International Film Festival Awards

The 39th Durban International Film Festival held its awards ceremony on Saturday (July 28) at Suncoast CineCentre on as filmmakers and film-lovers gathered to watch the official closing film Rafiki, directed by Wanuri Kahiu.

A total of 17 awards were given out at the ceremony:

Best Feature Film: The Reports on Sarah and Saleem, directed by Muayad Alayan, and produced by Muayad Alayan, Rami Alayan, Hans de Wolf, Hanneke Niens, Rebekka Garrido, Rodrigo Iturralde, Georgina Gonzalez, and Alejandro Duran. The award is accompanied by a cash prize of R50 000.

Best South African Feature Film: High Fantasy, directed by Jenna Bass and produced by David Horler and Steven Markovitz. The film received a cash prize of R25 000.

Best Documentary: New Moon, produced and directed by Philippa Ndisi-Hermann. The film received a cash prize of R25 000.

Best South African Documentary: Sisters of the Wilderness, directed by Karin Slater  and produced by Ronit Shapiro. The award is accompanied by a cash prize of R25,000.

  • Best Direction: Constantin Popescu for Pororoca
  • Best Cinematography: Liviu Marghidan for Pororoca
  • Best Screenplay: Jennifer Fox for The Tale
  • Best Actor: Bogdan Dumitrache for his role as Tudor in Pororoca, directed by Constantin Popescu
  • Best Actress: Maisa Abd Elhadi for her role as Bisan in The Reports on Sarah and Saleem
  • Best Editing: Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Level for The Tale
  • Artistic Bravery: was won jointly by High Fantasy, directed by Jenna Bass and Supa Modo directed by  Likarion Wainaina.
  • Best South African Short Film: Stillborn, directed by Jahmil X. T. Qubeka and produced by Huanxi Media Group, Xstream Pictures, and Yellowbone Entertainment. The film received a cash prize of R20 000 sponsored by the Gauteng Film Commission.
  • Best African Short Film: Aya, directed by Moufida Fedhila and produced by Appel d’Air Films. The film also received a cash prize of R20 000 sponsored by the Gauteng Film Commission.
  • Best Short Film: -The Patience of Water(La Paciencia Del Agua), directed by Guillem Almirall,. The film received a cash prize of R20 000 from the Gauteng Film Commission.
  • Audience Choice Award: The State Against Mandela and the Others, directed by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte, which received a cash prize of R25 000.
  • Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award: Silas, directed by Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman and produced by Appian Way, Big World Cinema and Ink & Pepper Productions.
  • Best Wavescape Film: Heavy Water, directed by Michael Oblowitz

DIFF has recently been included as a Documentary Feature Qualifying Festival by the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, which means that both the winners of the Best Documentary, New Moon and Best SA Documentary Sisters of the Wilderness, will now automatically qualify for consideration for an Oscar nomination.

The Shorts jury included creative media education and development  specialist Alicia Price and Leon Van Der Merwe of the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival. The fiction feature jurors were SA Producer Bongiwe Selane, Nigerian actor  Hakeem Kae Kazim and Nigerian actress Nse Ikpe-Etim. The documentary film jury included South African producer Uzanenkosi, Zimbabwean producer Nakai Matema, Nigerian filmmaker Mahmood Ali-Balogun and Berlin-based freelance filmmaker, writer and curator, Dorothee Wenner.

The festival continues until Sunday, 29 July,  at various venues around Durban.  DIFF 2018 is part of a month-long feast of film in Durban, including the BRICS Film festival and industry programmes, the Durban FilmMart, Isiphethu, Talents Durban, and the Nature Environment and Wildlife Film Congress.

See for more information and the programme.


Baby Mamas Takes To The Silver Screen In Its African Premiere At The 39th Durban International Film Festival

The all new comedy drama, Baby Mamas will feature at the 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). The week-long festival runs from 19th to 29th July at cinemas across Durban, and Baby Mamas will make the Sunday 22nd viewing a lot more interesting.

Set in Johannesburg, Baby Mamas revolves around the daily lives, loves and drama of four professional women who are all in different stages of their own real-life baby mama drama. Sharing similar experiences, a sisterhood develops among these four very different women, they find in each other the strength and courage it will take to navigate the treacherous waters of the relationships, good and bad, that they have with the men in their lives.

The film is written and directed by Stephina Zwane who also wrote and directed feature film; Love and Kwaito. Zwane co-Produced Baby Mamas with Salamina Mosese, under their production company, Sorele Media. The SAFTA winning actress, Mosese is also a lead in Baby Mamas along with sought-after actresses Kay Smith, Thembisa Mdoda and Dineo Ranaka.

“It’s important for such stories coming out of Africa to be told, our generation is fortunate to have the privilege of being able to tell our story ourselves, so the first thing I’m going to do is to always tell a unique African story.” said director Stephina Zwane.

“Right at the forefront of our stories there will always be leading women attached. Baby Mamas provides the other side of this narrative that is so often told from a negative perspective, which is not entirely true. This is why it is important to provide varying voices and realise that the female-perspective and experience deserves a platform too,” added Zwane.

Having travelled the world to cities such as New York, the African Premiere is a critical milestone for any film, as it makes the journey toward its local country release. The film screens at the Musgrave Ster Kinekor Complex at 16:00 on Sunday 22 July as part of the DIFF screening line up. The film promises to make you laugh, cry and show you a different side to modern-day Baby Mamas.

As part of the Emerging Black Filmmaker’s Fund (run by the IDC, DTI and NFVF), the film is set to release across cinemas in South Africa on October 12th 2018.