The award for the Best Feature Film at the 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF 2015) went to Sunrise directed by Partho Sen-Gupta. The film was described by the jury as “an uncompromising, brilliantly-crafted film that takes us through a fragmented mind, into a shady world allowing us to enter the reality of Mumbai’s underbelly”.
The award for Best South African Feature Film went to Necktie Youth directed by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, described by the jury as “a film desperate to reconcile the seemingly disparate realities of its country, and whose urgent questions about South African life are posed with such mischievous energy that they cannot help provoke debate, itself one of the most important responsibilities of cinema.”
Shongwe La-Mer also won the award for Best Direction, for Necktie Youth, “for displaying a unique, contemporary voice weaving together poetic images and a striking view of South African youth with a boldness seldom seen in South African cinema.”
The Best Documentary and Best SA Documentary awards which carries a prize of R25 000 each in cash, courtesy of the National Film and Video Foundation went to Beats of the Antonov directed by Hajooj Kuka and The Dream of the Shahrazad directed by Francois Verster.
The jury awarded Beats of the Antonov — an astonishing war movie set in the Sudan that shows people coping with the atrocities of the situation via music and their attitude to life — “for its story, characters, relevance and visual interpretation,” and for a “story told with grace, while honoring the integrity of the people who gave them access as well as the subject matter.”
The Dream of the Shahrazad was awarded for the way in which “the filmmakers pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone, taking mythology and bringing it into the centre of modernity,” and for being “an ambitious film..(that) addresses life post revolution and what is left after heartbreak.”
The awards for the 2015 Durban International Film Festival were made prior to the screening of the closing film, The Prophet, directed by Roger Allers. The 10-day festival saw 255 screenings at 13 venues around the city of Durban.
The international jury this year was led by former manager of the DIFF and current Director of the Sydney Film Festival, Nashen Moodley, and included award-winning South African filmmaker Robbie Thorpe, South African producer of numerous award-winning films who sits on the advisory panel for NFVF, Moroba Nkawe and award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, Newton Aduaka.
The South African feature film jury consisted of filmmakers Lizelle Bischoff, Thandeka Zwana and Jenna Cato Bass. Documentary jurors were filmmakers Annalet Steenkamp and Sylvia Vollenhoven.
Didier Michon received the Best Actor Award for his charismatic and captivating performance in Fevers, directed by Hicham Ayouch.
The award for Best Actress went to Anissa Daoud for her portrayal of a determined activist who takes a stand, in Tunisian Spring directed by Raja Amari.
The Best African Short Film award went to The Aftermath of the Inauguration of the Public Toilet at Kilometre 375 directed by Omar el Zohairy. The jury described this as an “exceptional film explores and pushes new avenues in political satire and the cinema.”
Unomalanga and The Witch directed by Palesa Shongwe, and cited by the jury as “a gentle and unexpected film (that) sheds light on the subtleties of relationships between women”, won the Best South African Short Film.
A new award, the Production Merit Award, went to Rights of Passage directed by Ntombizodwa Magagula, Mapula Sibanda, Lerato Moloi, Valencia Joshua, Zandile Angeline Wardle, Tony Miyambo, Rethabile Mothobi, Yashvir Bagwandeen.
Sabrina Compeyron and David Constantin won the Best Screenplay Award for “craftily tracking the age-old struggle between capital and labour spanning the end of industry and the disenfranchisement of a society” in Sugar Cane Shadows directed by David Constantin.
Jean-Marc Ferriere took the honours for Best Cinematography “for creating a distinctive, atmospheric, highly-crafted and visually dynamic world depicted almost entirely in the dark” in Sunrise directed by Partho Sen-Gupta.
Special Mention for Direction was made of Kivu Ruhorahoza for Things Of The Aimless Wanderer, “for a courageous and single-minded attempt by a director harnessing all means at his disposal to tell a personal, intricate and political story.”
A Special Mention for Best Film was given to Tunisian Spring by Raja Amari “for it’s powerful depiction of an event that has, and continues to have, resonance in the world.”
Democrats directed by Camilla Nielsson, got a Special Mention for a Documentary, which is “commended for putting a human face on a story that is complex and sometimes almost opaque.”
The Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award for the film that best reflects human rights issues went to The Shore Break, directed by Ryley Grunenwald. The jury citation reads “The film powerfully portrays a struggle within a local community regarding foreign mining rights in a pristine environment…(and) concisely and movingly uncovers this complex and urgent matter, which is still under investigation and in need of public support.”
A further Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Honorary Award was given to The Look of Silence directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, a film that “bravely uncovers the genocide in Indonesia in the 1960’s.”
The jurors for these awards were Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Betty Rawheath, Professor Lindy Stiebel and Coral Vinsen, convener of the jury panel.
Arterial Network’s Artwatch Africa Award, for an African film that meaningfully engages with the issues of freedom of expression, went to Beats of the Antonov, directed by Hajooj Kuka. The jury citation said “This compelling film shows how the power of music, dancing and culture sustains the displaced people living in the remote war-ravaged areas of Southern Sudan.”
The jury included Junaid Ahmed, Gcina Mhlophe, René Alicia Smith, and Peter Rorvik.
The DIFF Audience Award went to The Shore Break directed by Ryley Grunenwald.
See more on all the films on the DIFF2015 website.