Durban International Film Festival Manager, Ms Chipo Zhou (left), with CCA Director Mr David Wa Maahlamela and Acting CEO of the Durban Film Office, Ms Toni Monty.

The 38th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within UKZN’s College of Humanities takes place in Durban from 13 to 23 July.

It was announced at the media launch that there would be a strong focus on developing local talent and skills transfer during the Festival.

CCA Director Mr David Wa Maahlamela, who is both proud and excited to be hosting the prestige event, said: ‘In a world in which people find themselves displaced and seeking refuge in foreign lands, the theme for the Festival is “Transit Tales”, with a number of films capturing the emotive stories of human displacement as a result of war and catastrophic events.’

It is the vision of DIFF’s newly-appointed Festival Manager, Ms Chipo Zhou, for the Festival to reinvent itself into a film festival within the African context, and to set an industry standard for the inclusion of women and women-led films.

‘We have to redefine what and who tells the tales in society as that has a significant role in how people learn and understand the world, particularly the African continent,’ said Zhou. ‘The Festival this year is giving women a platform to take ownership of our stories, the origins of our stories and how they are told.

‘We have the opportunity to reconstruct our narrative as such that we re-socialise society in order that it reconceives perceptions about women especially in the wake of the brutality against women we have seen in South Africa recently.’

The psychological thriller Serpent, a directorial debut from Amanda Evans, opens the Festival on 13 July at the Playhouse Theatre. Serpent is about a husband and wife on a romantic escape out in the wild that quickly turns deadly when they are trapped in a tent with a poisonous snake.

The Closing Night film is Asinamali! by award-winning theatre stalwart, Mbongeni Ngema. The film was inspired by events surrounding the 1983 rent boycott in Lamontville township, Durban. Activist Msizi Dube led the boycott, and the rallying cry was asinamali, Zulu for “we have no money [to pay rent]”.

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Nomcebo Mncube