The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities officially launched the 43rd Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) at Suncoast CineCentre with the opening movie 1960.

The film, set in Sophiatown and directed by duo Mr King Shaft and Mr Michael Mutombo, is about a retired singer who revisits her past to assist with an investigation into an apartheid-era policeman.

Actress Ms Zanile Madliwa plays a young woman that wants to become a musician but has a big secret that she has harboured for years.

At the opening, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize recognised the importance of the festival in the creative arts calendar of Durban and the country. ‘The festival plays a major role in stimulating industry development, script writing, and film making in African languages. It is a vehicle for the social, cultural and economic emancipation of hidden and marginalised narratives, adapting them from the local to the international arena.’

Mkhize said: ‘The introduction of the International Student Film Festival as part of DIFF made it the first university students’ film festival on the African continent.’

Speaking about the event’s opening film, Mutombo said: ‘The story caught me immediately because I am a huge fan of period pieces. It was first developed as a series but later turned into a feature film. Every time I watch it, it gets me to a place I have never been before. The music turned out phenomenal. I hope we can all enjoy the film the way I do.’

The film’s co-producer, co-writer and composer Mr Bruce Retief said ‘the inspiration behind the storyline stemmed from my love for art, music, history telling, writing and for all South Africans.’

Festival manager Ms Valma Pfaff announced that 1960 was among feature films competing for DIFF awards. ‘The films selected are diverse but with a common thread of adaptation and instilling hope for the future,’ said Pfaff.

Mutombo’s brother, Landry, who attended the premiere said: ‘I couldn’t be prouder of him and this film.’

The festival runs until Saturday, 30 July.

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Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied