14th Wavescape Surf Film Festival At The Durban International Film Festival

The 14th iteration of the Wavescape Surf Film Festival takes place at the Durban International Film Festival, headlined by the African premiere of smash-hit feature documentary Heavy Water, by California-based South African Michael Oblowitz on July 22.

Heavy Water: The Life and Times of Nathan Fletcher will open Wavescape at the Bay of Plenty outdoor screening on Sunday 22 July. The film is one of 22 films Wavescape brings to Durban this year, including features and shorts from Sierra Leone, Namibia, South Africa, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada, among others.

Heaving Water

Wavescape Director Steve Pike, aka Spike, says that the lineup for DIFF was one of the most exciting in years. “We’re honoured to have several other African premieres, such as the incredible story of Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark; and the gritty documentary Secrets of Desert Point, a piece of pioneering surf history.”

Heavy Water promises an entertaining night out at the Bay of Plenty. “It’s a feature documentary, but views like an exciting action film. About the wild antic of big wave legend Nathan Fletcher, it also chronicles his relationships with the colourful, gritty characters of Hawaii’s North Shore. One highlight is when Fletcher enacts a dream to jump out of a helicopter with a surfboard right onto a giant wave, and surf it.”

Oblowitz has said about that moment, “In this movie, Nathan’s dream comes true. He’s the only guys that’s been able to successfully do it – and he pulls it off. It’s mind blowing.”

From Monday 23 to Friday 27 July, Wavescape moves to Arena 5, Village Walk, uShaka Marine World for five 6pm screenings, which are free. The screenings at uShaka open with a lineup of three short films and two features, the soulful Perilous Sea and Church of the Open Sky, a master piece of surf filmmaking by Australian director Nathan Oldfield.

Perilous Sea

Wavescape closes with Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, the untold story of Hamilton’s journey from childhood to motherhood and how she lost an arm to a tiger shark as a child. However, her relentless determination turns her into one of surfing’s great pro surfers and big wave riders, despite her disability. Bethany rewrites the phrase “Surfs Like a Girl.”

Bethany Hamilton

The midweek highlight is the documentary Secrets Of Desert Point, an excellent piece of historical story telling by Director Ira Opper, who chronicles the story of how a young Californian and his friends stumble across a perfect wave in the early 1980s from leaky boats among the remote islands of Indonesia, but it was fraught with dangers, from drugs to pirates and deadly coral reefs.

Secrets of Desert Point

Spike says there are also excellent films about travel – the quest for reach for something precious, like the soulful travels of a Moroccan who brings clean water to the poor communities of Africa while working his way towards the infamous waves of Skeleton Bay in Namibia. The Seawolf is pure surf soul as we follow “eight surfers on a two-year journey to remote places to find the most dangerous waves on terrifyingly shallow rock slabs. Filmed in high definition 4k on Red Cameras, this is a enriching viewing experience”.

Several films tackle the emotional side of the human condition, such as Finding Purpose, a short film about Durban big wave surfer Tammy-Lee Smith who finds purpose riding big waves after pain and loss. A Million Waves tells the story of Kadiatu Kamara, 19, who is left to face the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone alone after her dad dies. She finds hope surfing in the waves.

Finding Purpose

In Visit, we travel with a shy, former street kid from Durban on his trip to England to visit the land of the funders who saved him from disappearing down a dark and dangerous rabbit hole. There is Adam, an award-winning short film about a Cape Town surfer diagnosed with a chronic form of cancer; or Awen, in which we see the uncomfortable reality of a young Chinese man who clashes with his mother because she wants him to become a fisherman like his ancestors, but he just wants to go surfing.


However, beyond the pain of being human come films to celebrate the visual poetry of the natural world, and the spiritual enrichment that the act of surfing and being in the ocean brings. Sea Lone eulogises some of the world’s top women longboarders on a surf trip to Sri Lanka.

Shape Qui Rit is a cute short about a two year old girl who “shapes” her dream surfboard; Night Rose sees an elderly lady in England transported by a vision into the ocean for a night surf; Black Rain catches a session in the tropics that cracks with the sea surface chatter of a thunderstorm, while The Edge Of North follows top British surfers to Scotland for a refreshing surf trip on the doorstep of their home.

Black Rain
Edge of North

All Wavescape Surf Film Festival films at DIFF are free . Opening July 22 at Bay of Plenty at  7pm – bring picnics and chairs. Then from 23 to 27 July at 6pm at Village Walk, uShaka Marine World.

For more information follow DIFF on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or go to


9th Durban FilmMart “Open For Business”

20 – 23 July 2018 during the Durban International Film Festival

Echoing government’s reassurance to investors into South Africa’s economy, the Durban FilmMart, one of Africa’s premier film industry events will be “open for business” when it begins its four day event on July 20 during the 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

The DIFF in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office, the City’s film industry development arm under the Economic and Development cluster, has, for nine years, presented this important gathering for filmmakers from across the continent and further afield with the specific aim at growing the African industry.

“The DFM attracts an array of film-makers including directors, producers, scriptwriters, investors and financiers, distributors and broadcasters as well as curators for festivals and other markets, and is globally renowned for providing an important springboard for African stories and ideas, collaborations and investment into film projects,” explains Toni Monty, Head of the DFO and DFM. “Essentially this is how film projects are given a leg up to help them on their way.”

Speaking on behalf of the DFO, Monty says, “As a government entity, in partnership with the DIFF, we take our role very seriously in working on a highly professional level with filmmakers to ensure we provide an environment that is enabling for them.”

“The Mart brings in over 400 experts, people and organisations interested in potential film projects for further development. Here they are able to meet film-makers from Africa, discuss and engage and then it’s over to them to conclude their business independently. The event ultimately seeks to build Durban as an important hub for doing film and television business in Africa.”

The DFM includes a series of masterclasses, seminars and panel discussions to help filmmakers keep up to date on trends, innovations and policies. There are also many networking opportunities for them to build strong business connections on both a continental and international level.

New for DFM is the appointment of local arts and culture administrator, Russel Hlongwane as the curator of both the DFM and DIFF’s industry programme, which has enabled a consolidation that speaks to the DIFF’s theme “leave no filmmaker behind.”

Hlongwane explains, “We have sought a programme that provides delegates with innovation and new thinking, and thought-leadership that we believe will provide insightful and meaningful engagements that can be taken forward.”

Key speakers this year include Dayo Ogunyemi a Lagos-based creative entrepreneur and investor who will give presentation that foregrounds African markets as lucrative territories. Stephen Follows, from the UK, is a leading trainer and thought-leader in how storytelling can be used to change hearts and minds. Follows, who is also a data researcher in the film industry, will present a high level session which unpacks key shifts and trends shaping the market from an international perspective. LA-based Peter Russell is a screenwriter and story doctor in Hollywood who will present a session in which he will share the secrets of how film storytelling can be adapted into the red hot television storytelling market.

Another major highlight, which is sure to have filmmakers interests piqued, is that Richard Ray Perez, Director: Creative Partnerships at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Programme will address a gathering for delegates entitled Stories of Change: A Collaborative Model for Impactful Storytelling.

Sessions at DFM will look at the aesthetical and fundamental values that will define films from the African continent; insights into ways African filmmakers can source and work the often hard and tricky world of financing structures on the continent; how to work towards a more ‘’entrepreneurial approach’’ to filmmaking without compromising creative content; distribution, and what makes a successful documentary.

Speaking to current issues, the South African Screen Federation will lead a discussion entitled, Are there any Sacred Cows in Filmmaking? following the recent public debates around handling of sensitive social and cultural issues within film, and Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT) will lead discussions on issues of sexual harassment, race and transformation in the industry. Other important discussions taking place include The practicalities and importance of Co-Production Treaties and Copyright vs Copyleft – where to from here? The National Film and Video Foundation will also present a series of workshops and discussions on policies and local industry trends.

Additional insightful sessions will include the Department of Trade and Industry’s launch of the Industries Film Incentives Guidelines and Emerging Black Filmmakers’ Fund Guidelines. The programme will include a set of discussions, led by the Department of Arts and Culture, on current and future collaborations within the BRICS member countries. Filmmakers will have the opportunity to network with member country filmmaker delegations in attendance.

The official pitching forums will include representatives from sixteen pre-selected African film projects that will be pitching film projects to leading financiers, broadcasters and other potential funders and investors at the DFM’s finance forum.

Running parallel to the DFM, and supported by the experts and visiting speakers, is the Durban International Film Festival’s open industry programme, Isiphethu, aimed at introducing entry level, emerging filmmakers, micro-budget film-makers as well as interested members of the public to the inner-workings of the world of cinema.

Manager of the DIFF, Chipo Zhou says, “Our strategy for Isiphethu, is to support filmmakers in developing quality content. We want to be able to offer these filmmakers opportunities to incubate projects, be mentored by experts, network with seasoned and experienced peers, and be included in the overall vision of the DIFF and DFM, to grow quality African content. In short to include this sector of the industry into the greater industry fold, “leaving no filmmaker behind.”

“The “economy” of film, is central to the objectives of the Durban FilmMart to encourage African filmmakers to look within to collaborate, finance and develop content,” says Toni Monty. “We are very excited to see so many DFM alumni projects that have come to fruition, doing very well on local and international festival and cinema circuits and many with good distribution deals: these include films like DIFF’s closing film Rafiki, Inxeba: The Wound and, Five Fingers for Marseilles, as well as Silas which is also screening at DIFF to name a few. This is exactly the strategy created by the DFO and DIFF nine years ago, and it is heartening to see the long-term value it provides for the African film industry. This year’s programme is rich in diversity and complexity, and we are looking forward to seeing Durban come alive with a real buzz of the business of filmmaking.”

The 9th Durban FilmMart takes place in Durban, at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni from 20 to 23 July 2018, during the 39th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (19 to 29 July 2018).

Online registration closes on 29 June, 2018, but there is still opportunity to register from July 19 from 2pm manually at the event. For more information on the Durban FilmMart and to register as a delegate visit  or for Durban International Film Festival www.durbanfilmfest.

Facebook: Durban FilmMart SA

Twitter: @durbanfilmmart



Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) Announces Programme For 2018 (19-29 July)

Durban International Film Festival Launches 39th Edition
19 – 29 July 2018 – various venues around Durban

This year, the Durban International Film Festival, the leading event of its kind on the African continent, is once again bringing film lovers and filmmakers from across the globe to the shores of Durban for a feast of the latest and best that cinema has to offer from 19 to 29 July.

In 2018, ahead of a 40th bumper anniversary next year, the festival offers a focused fare of 180 features films, documentaries, and shorts, along with an insightful industry programme that includes Isisphethu for emerging and micro-budget filmmakers, the 11th Talents Durban, in partnership with Berlinale Talents, for pre-selected, semi-established  filmmakers as well as the co-production and finance forum the 9th Durban FilmMart, the festival’s partner programme with the Durban Film Office.

Opening the festival is the first feature film from South African director Jerome Pikwane, the horror flick The Tokoloshe. The LGTBI love-story Rafiki, directed by Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu, will close the festival.

The Tokolosche, directed by Jerome Pikwane
Rafiki, Sheila Munyiva and Samantha Mugatsialr

Manager of DIFF Chipo Zhou, explains the choice of these two diverse films that have women as their focus. “We wanted to book-end DIFF with films that tell stories about women, their strength and their resilience. We also want to showcase the fact that there are many ways to tell these stories from a cinematic point of view,” said Zhou.

“We are in a time of diversity, where women, racial minorities and LGBTI communities who have traditionally been underrepresented in film are having their voices brought to the fore,” says Zhou. “Referencing this global narrative, the films in this year’s festival will reflect these new voices as much as possible.”

Among the features in competition this year are South African films Farewell Ella Bella directed by Lwazi Mvusi, which follows a young woman on a journey to bury her father; High Fantasy directed by Jenna Bass, in which a group of young South Africans have to navigate a personal-political labyrinth when they wake up to discover they have swapped bodies; Sara Blecher’s Mayfair, a gangster film about a father and son; and The Recce by Ferdinand van Zyl, which explores the pain and suffering families endured during and after South Africa’s 20-year border war.

High Fantasy – Gabriella Cchadinha
Farewell Ella Bella

International features in competition include The Tale (USA) directed by Jennifer Fox, which chronicles one woman’s powerful investigation into her own childhood memories as she is forced to re-examine her first sexual experience; Clint (India) by Hari Kumar, which tells the story of prodigious artist child who died before his seventh birthday, leaving behind 25000 pictures; and the closing film Rafiki (Kenya), directed by Wanuri Kahiu, which is set in Nairobi and tells the touching tale of two very different girls who fall in love.

The Tale, Laura Dern

Competition titles in the documentary section include the South African film Silas, a global tale directed by Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman which warns of the power of politics and celebrates the capacity of individuals to fight back, and Whispering Truth to Power, directed by human rights lawyer Shameela Seedat, which tracks Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s first female Public Protector, as she builds her second case against President Jacob Zuma.

International documentaries in competition include New Moon (Kenya), directed by Phillippa Ndisi-Herrmann, who explores her journey to Sufi Islam; Amal (Lebanon, Egypt, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark), directed by Mohamed Siam, which follows a teenager as she comes to terms with her identity and sexuality in a post-revolutionary police state; Shakedown (USA) directed by Leilah Weinraub, which chronicles explicit performances in an underground queer club in Los Angeles; and The State Against Nelson Mandela and the Others (France) by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte, which offers archival recordings that include Mandela’s co-accused at the Rivonia Treason Trial hearings, and which transports the audience back into the courtroom battles.

Other South African films on the billing include Durban filmmaker Michael Cross’ award-winning The Fun’s Not Over, about the life of musician James Philips, and Eubulus Timothy’s warm, coming-of-age surf love story Deepend. Sisters of the Wilderness is Karin Slater’s inspiring film which is set in the iMfolozi Wilderness and follows five young Zulu women on a journey of self-discovery. Then there is Oscar-nominated director Darrel Roodt’s horror Siembamba, Stephina Zwane’s comedy Baby Mamas, which revolves around the daily lives and loves of four women and their own real-life baby mama drama, Leli Maki’s comedy Table Manners, in which  a wife and mother finds solace and hope in cooking, learning that all she needs is life’s three courses – family, food and love.

The Fun_s Not Over -James Phillips at home in 1994 by Ruvan Boschoff
Baby Mamas

Prior to each screening, public service announcements will be shown. These are themed around an industry campaign #thatsnotok created by SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film and Television), the SA-based non-profit that works to protect and advance the cause of women in the industry.

In 2018 DIFF continues its endeavours to grow cinema audiences and this year free community-based screenings will take place at Solomon Mahlangu Hall (New Germany/Clermont), KwaMashu Fan Park, Umlazi W Section Library and The Workshop Amphitheatre. Other screenings take place at Community ZA (formerly Artspace Gallery in Umgeni) and KZNSA Gallery, Musgrave Ster Kinekor, Suncoast Cine Centre and Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, as well as Ushaka Marine World, where the popular free ocean-focused film festival Wavescapeswill take place in the public area.

“With about 400 film-makers in attendance, the public can look forward to a feast of film and some fascinating insights into the world of cinema,” concludes Zhou.

The DIFF is organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, National Film and Video Foundation, Durban Film Office and other valuable partners.

DIFF opens at The Playhouse on July 19 and runs until July 29. The closing film will be screened on July 28, after the competition awards.

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


The 39th Durban International Film Festival Announces Opening And Closing Films

A thriller/horror film and a LGTBI love-story have been selected respectively as the opening- and closing films of the 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which takes place from 19 to 29 July 2018.

In a bold move to shift perceptions of how African stories can be told cinematically across genres, the DIFF has selected a South African debut thriller/horror feature The Tokoloshe, directed by Jerome Pikwane, for opening night and Kenyan director, Wanuri Kahiu’s tender story of lesbian love, Rafiki as its closing film.

“With the current global focus on giving womxn a voice in a world dominated by masculinity and systemic misogyny, we wanted to book-end the festival with films that tell stories about womxn, their strength and their survival. We also want to showcase, from a cinematic point of view, that there are many ways to tell these stories,” says Manager of DIFF, Chipo Zhou.

The Tokoloshe is directed by Jerome Pikwane, co-written with novelist Richard Kunzmann and produced by Dumi Gumbi and Cati Weinek of The Ergo Company.

In The Tokoloshe, which stars Petronella Tshuma, Dawid Minnaar, Kwande Nkosi, Harriet Manamela and Yule Masiteng, a young womxn, crippled by suppressed emotions, must find the courage to face an insatiable demon, wrought in her own childhood, when she tries to save the life of a girl-child abandoned in a rundown Johannesburg hospital.

Jerome Pikwane – Director The Tokoloshe Photo

“Using the horror genre I wanted to investigate how we suppress trauma, and what happens when the trauma comes to the surface.  In effect, the Tokoloshe in South African mythology has become a foil for abuse that is ingrained in our society, ” says director Jerome Pikwane. “And the characters, their journey, their relationships are the focus and not the beautiful shots nor the CGI, although we have that too.”

“The film is not quite what one expects from its title, so I dare audiences to see beneath the surface,” says Zhou. “It is a horror film, crafted so intricately, unveiling the menace that is our everyday burden as womxn in this country. But the film depicts the story of a survivor, not a victim. It is a chilling story, one that needs to be told now and is particularly relevant as it gives voice to the voiceless.”

Closing film Rafiki, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, produced by Steven Markovitz (SA) and starring Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, is a touching tale of two very different girls living in Nairobi, who fall in love. Co-written with Jenna Bass (SA), the film was the first Kenyan feature film to be invited to Cannes Film Festival 2018 as part of the Official Un Certain Regard selection, and was a project in the 2012 Durban FilmMart.

“Over the years of developing this film, we have seen worrying developments in the anti-LGBTI climate in East Africa,” says director Wanuri Kahiu. “Local films and international TV shows have been banned because of LGBTI content. This has muffled conversations about LGBTI rights and narrowed the parameters of freedom of speech. My hope is that the film is viewed as an ode to love, whose course is never smooth, and as a message of love and support to the ones among us who are asked to choose between love and safety. May this film shout where voices have been silenced.”

“We are delighted to be able to screen Rafiki at DIFF,” says Zhou. “The film speaks to the issues of patriarchy that has led the film to be banned in its own country, and closes a festival with a programme packed with films dealing with a host of current challenges that those marginalised in our society, and especially womxn, are “loudly” grappling with.”

Wanuri Kahiu. TED Fellow. TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

“At this time alongside the #MeToo and, closer to home, the “#ItsNotOk campaigns, that seek to expose the perpetrators of violence against womxn, these films bookend a conscious and carefully curated selection of cinematic themes that also run as threads through the Durban FilmMart and through our new Isiphethu industry programme for emerging and micro-budget filmmakers.”

The DIFF is organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts. The Festival also offers an industry programme and outreach activities that include screenings in townships areas, where cinemas are non-existent. Alongside the DIFF is the Durban FilmMart, a co-production market in partnership with Ethekwini Municipality’s Durban Film Office, Talents Durban, in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus and the Wavescape Surf Film Festival.

DIFF opens at The Playhouse on July 19 and runs until July 29. The closing film is on July 28.

For more information visit or any one of the DIFF’s social media pages, Durban International Film Festival.


Talents Durban Participants Announced For 2018 Edition At Durban International Film Festival DIFF

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) will welcome 19 filmmakers from 13 African countries to the 11th edition of Talents Durban, which takes place from July 20 to 24 during the festival.

This five-day development programme presented in cooperation with Berlinale Talents, an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, is made up of workshops, masterclasses and seminars for African filmmakers, delivered by film industry professionals and academics.

Talents Durban attracted over 250 applications from 30 countries throughout the African continent. Participants were carefully selected by an independent, international, womxn-led Talents Durban alumnae selection committee, with four animation directors, six directors and six screenwriters chosen, and a further three film critics chosen for the Talent Press porgramme.

The Talent Press, which is a programme to mentor and develop reviewing skills of emerging film critics, is presented in cooperation with Fipresci, an association of national organizations of professional film critics and film journalists from around the world, which lobbies for the promotion and development of film culture.

The film-makers participating in this year’s Talents Durban are Aliki Saragas (South Africa), Amjad Abu Alala (Sudan), Brian Gitahi (Kenya), Comfort Arthur (Ghana), Desiree Kahikopo (Namibia), Emamodeviefe Edosio (Nigeria), Glele-aboucha Cornélia (Benin), Howard Mashilo Nthite (South Africa), Jessie Zinn (South Africa), Mandimbijaona Andriamaharo Razafimanantsoa (Madagascar), Matamba Kombila (Gabon), Mlingane Dube (South Africa), Nildo Essa (Mozambique), Oluyomi Tolulope Ososanya (Nigeria), Oualid Khelifi (Algeria), Sade Adeniran (Nigeria), Sejang Otumile Tumi Sejoe (Botswana), Tafadzwa Tarumbwa (Zimbabwe) and Tokoloho Masemene (South Africa).

Participants will interact with over 600 delegates from the DIFF and Durban FilmMart, the co-production and finance forum that takes place from 20 to 23 July during the festival. The Talents will also participate in several project-oriented, hands-on skills development programmes. These practical development programmes within Talents Durban include Story Junction, masterclasses, and one-on-one mentorships.

The participants will be able to further develop their film projects through mentorships and expert-guided Project Labs. Sixteen projects will have the opportunity to join Durban FilmMart for a two-day preparatory workshop, followed by two days of public pitching, round tables, and individual meetings.

Story Junction is a platform showcasing projects linked to the festival. Talents will present their project at Story Junction to peers and industry delegates. Delegates will be able to request meetings with participants whose projects they wish to engage with further.

Participants will have access to film screenings, industry masterclasses, panel discussions, festival functions and events of the Durban FilmMart.

“We are very pleased to have such a diverse range of Talents for our 2018 edition,” says Chipo Zhou, Manager of DIFF. “This is a brilliant programme for the development of film-makers, which the many alumni across the globe can attest to. Here, not only are they able to learn and gather knowledge through the formal programme, but it is a great place to connect with film-makers from other countries, network and share ideas. The value of this for continued and future collaboration is immeasurable.”

Talents Durban is one of 7 Talents International Programmes formed by Berlinale Talents in Africa and around the world including Talents Beirut (Lebanon), Talents Buenos Aires (Argentina), Talents Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Talents Tokyo (Japan), Talents Guadalajara (Mexico) and Talent Press Rio (Brazil).

Talents Durban is supported by the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, Goethe-Institut SA, German Embassy in South Africa, National Film and Video Foundation and Gauteng Film Commission.

The 39th Durban International Film Festival (19 – 29 July 2018) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with support from eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the National Film and Video Foundation, German Embassy, Goethe-Institut and a range of other valued partners.

For more information go to